News Corp to cut 'up to a third of workforce' in move towards digital-only publishing

Publisher of the Australian, the Daily Telegraph and the Herald Sun is expected to stop publishing as many as 100 titles

News Corp Australia is poised to cut hundreds of jobs as it moves towards digital-only publishing for many of its local and regional papers and more copy sharing among its metropolitan mastheads the Daily Telegraph and the Herald Sun.

The executive chairman of News Corp Australasia, Michael Miller, has hinted the company is on the brink of upheaval, saying last week it was evolving from “a network of news­papers” to “Australia’s leading journalism network”.

The job cuts Miller has warned are “inevitable” after the collapse of the advertising market during the pandemic are expected to hit the publisher’s local and regional newspaper staff as well as the major mastheads as soon as this week.

Sources say the cuts could be as high as 30% of staff across the company and many will be force redundancies, rather than voluntary.

Rupert Murdoch’s empire is not alone in making significant cuts and hard times have hit other publishers including Australian Community Media and Nine Entertainment and entire newsrooms including Ten Daily and BuzzFeed Australia have closed this month, although BuzzFeed’s commercial operation is still open.

The cuts at News Corp come a week after the company appointed Murdoch’s Melbourne-based veteran newsman Peter Blunden to the newly created role of national executive editor and established specialist network teams to “work across titles to produce quality content”.

Reporters from the specialist network would be expected to produce a single story to be shared among mastheads, including the Telegraph, the Herald Sun and the Courier Mail, instead of each title having its own dedicated team.

News Corp is expected to stop printing as many as 100 titles – which reached six million people in print – after talks to offload the papers failed.

“This quality journalism will be better resourced than anything we have done before and will be developed, published and shared on all formats to grow audiences and subscriptions,” Miller told the Australian last week.

In April, News Corp suspending printing 60 of its local newspapers including the New South Wales title the Manly Daily, which has been in print since 1906.

Miller said the decision to stop printing was made after the advertising from the real estate and entertainment industries dried up.

The community newspapers include the Brisbane News; the Central Coast Express Advocate; the Mornington Peninsula Leader; the Moreland Leader, the Northcote Leader, the Preston Leader and the Stonnington Leader in Melbourne; and the Blacktown Advocate, the Inner West Courier and the Wentworth Courier in Sydney.

The community and regional newspapers have been a training ground for journalists for generations, and their closure will create “news deserts” across the country.

The Australian Newsroom Mapping Project aims to track the health of Australia’s news industry and has already counted 157 newsrooms that have closed temporarily or for good since January 2019.

Contributor

Amanda Meade

The GuardianTramp

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