It has been a wrenching end to 2018 for Australia’s legacy media businesses, and not just because of the fallout from the $3 billion Fairfax Media takeover by Nine Entertainment. About a hundred workers at Australia’s media companies have been made redundant in the weeks leading up to Christmas.

Foxtel, News Corp and Seven West Media have all cut jobs in the past month, as revenue growth from advertising and circulation slides and digital revenues cannot make up the difference.

Nine confirmed to staff this week it would be cutting 144 positions, affecting 92 people, after absorbing Fairfax to avoid duplication of roles, while two leading journalists also resigned: national affairs editor Mark Kenny and Victorian publisher Mark Hawthorne. 

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In Perth, Seven West Media has continued to cut costs, closing the long-standing Quokka classified ads business, at a cost of four staff. The decision to shut Quokka is understood to have been made on Wednesday and those made redundant will be gone by December 18 — Merry Christmas! The final edition and online editions are slated for December 20 and the website shuts the same day.

The West Australian editor Brett McCarthy was also announced to be leaving in a press release issued by Seven West Media. According to the statement, McCarthy “had recently been planning changes to the newsroom operations which had prompted him to consider his own future”. He was out the door by the end of the day. He’s been replaced by 33-year-old Daily Telegraph deputy editor Anthony De Ceglie in the new position of “senior editor”, overseeing The WestThe Weekend West and the Sunday Times.

Seven West Media will be moving its Sydney HQ from Pyrmont to the facilities at Technology Park in Redfern. Someone should be able to conjure up even more job cuts from that move — there will be dozens of positions to trim after the company lifted its cost-cutting target across the group from $10-20 million to $20-30 million.

At Nine, Today’s executive producer Mark Calvert has stepped down from the role after a horror year of ratings and “tension” with star Karl Stefanovic. In an email to staff today, news director Darren Wick confirmed Calvert would leave the embattled breakfast program after five years at the helm:

From personal experience, I know there is no more challenging role in news and current affairs than the daily breakfast battle between Today and Sunrise. It’s a national ratings race where audience loyalty fluctuates from city to city, and often suburb to suburb.

News Corp has been cutting in bits and pieces, some of which was revealed in Nine’s Fairfax newspapers last week. That is on top of News Corp’s gradual cuts across their papers that have been playing out this year. News Corp (as well as Fairfax) has been outsourcing and centralising some of its newsdesk jobs.

The cuts keep coming at Foxtel in the wake of the merger with Fox Sports. Foxtel had already cut a number of jobs in March as the merger was being implemented, including a number of redundancy notices sent out on the same day as Christmas party invites.

Even street press is not immune, with Sydney’s The Brag announcing this week it was reducing its publication schedule to quarterly, cutting its only two editorial staff. CEO Luke Girgas said in a statement that the decision was “our way of keeping our love alive without it distracting from our core business”. “We won’t be creating much written content exclusively for The Brag magazine anymore, and therefore we no longer need dedicated full time staff on the print format,” he said. “The print mag will be curated quarterly by our staff writers and designers and we also have some exciting print-exclusive ideas, that aren’t written features, rolling out next year too.”

This week, La Trobe University released its research into how journalists who lost jobs respond to the mass redundancies in the industry in recent years. It estimated that 3000 journalism jobs had been cut in the past 10 years, but journalists have shown considerable resilience in moving into new work, either in journalism or in a new career.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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