News Corp announces end of more than 100 Australian print newspapers in huge shift to digital

Print editions of dozens of regional newspapers to finish, with sweeping job cuts feared

News Corp Australia has confirmed that more than 100 local and regional newspapers will become digital only or disappear entirely, and there will be a significant number of job losses.

The executive chairman of News Corp Australasia, Michael Miller, thanked the departing employees for their “professionalism, dedication and contribution”.

“They have provided News with invaluable years of service,” Miller said. “Their passionate commitment to the communities in which they live and work and their role in ensuring these have been informed and served by trusted local media has been substantial.”

The media union says staff found out through leaks to the press and have not been told personally yet. Numbers have not been confirmed but estimates are as high as several hundred.

A total of 112 of Rupert Murdoch’s print newspapers will stop the presses, including 36 which will close altogether and 76 which will remain as online mastheads. News Corp will not specify how many staff each title will have, if any, or how much local reporting will continue.

Three Sydney newspapers in affluent areas – the Wentworth Courier, the Mosman Daily and the North Shore Times – will resume print editions as they have healthy real estate advertising revenue.

News Corp suspended 60 papers in April when the coronavirus hit the economy but it always seemed unlikely they would ever return to print.

The Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance said it was a huge loss for communities in regional and suburban Australia.

News Corp cuts are a massive blow to communities - MEAA

— MEAA (@withMEAA) May 28, 2020

“We are still waiting for clarity from the company on how many editorial staff will be affected by these changes across the News Corp network,” chief executive Paul Murphy said. “We are determined to see proper consultation and fair treatment for any affected staff.

“The closure of so many mastheads represents an immense blow to local communities and, coming off the back of hundreds of previous regional closures during this period, it underlines the seriousness of the crisis facing regional and local journalism.”

Miller said a review had found that consumers were reading and subscribing to news online and advertising was moving online.

“COVID-19 has impacted the sustainability of community and regional publishing,” he said. “Despite the audiences of News Corp’s digital mastheads growing more than 60% as Australians turned to trusted media sources during the peak of the recent COVID-19 lockdowns, print advertising spending, which contributes the majority of our revenues, has accelerated its decline.

“Consequently, to meet these changing trends, we are reshaping News Corp Australia to focus on where consumers and businesses are moving and to strengthen our position as Australia’s leading digital news media company. This will involve employing more digital only journalists and making investments in digital advertising and marketing solutions for our partners.”

A total of 76 papers will become digital only, bringing to 92 the number of online titles published by the company after News Corp launched 16 new online titles in recent years.

But 36 small papers will disappear entirely, including Queensland’s Buderim Chronicle, Caloundra Weekly, Capricorn Coast Mirror, Coolum News, Nambour Weekly, Ipswich Advertiser, Kawana/Maroochy Weekly, Gold Coast Sun, Hervey Bay Independent, Maryborough Herald, Balonne Beacon, Surat Basin News, Herbert River Express, Innisfail Advocate, Central Telegraph. In NSW the titles to fold are Coastal Views, Northern Rivers Echo, Richmond River Express Examiner and in Tasmania they are Tasmanian Country.

The following regional titles will become digital only: Queensland – Mackay’s Daily Mercury, Rockhampton’s Morning Bulletin, Gladstone’s Observer, Bundaberg’s NewsMail, Fraser Coast Chronicle, Gympie Times, Sunshine Coast Daily, Queensland Times, Warwick Daily News, Central and North Burnett Times, Central Queensland News, Chinchilla News, Dalby Herald, Gatton Star, Noosa News, South Burnett Times, Stanthorpe Border Post, Western Star, Western Times, Whitsunday Times, Whitsunday Coast Guardian and Bowen Independent, news from the towns covered by the Atherton Tablelander, Northern Miner, Post Douglas & Mossman Gazette and Burdekin Advocate will continue to appear, as it does now, under the regional sections of the Cairns Post and Townsville Bulletin; NSW – Tweed Daily News, Ballina Advocate, Byron Shire News, Coffs Coast Advocate, Grafton Daily Examiner and Lismore Northern Star; Northern Territory – The Centralian Advocate.

The following community titles in Melbourne will become digital only: Stonnington, Mornington Peninsula, Knox, Whitehorse, Monash, Northern, Whittlesea, Maroondah, Moorabbin, Mordialloc Chelsea, Moreland, Lilydale and Yarra Valley, Frankston, Bayside, Caulfield Port Phillip, Cranbourne, Greater Dandenong, Moonee Valley, Maribyrnong, Wyndham;.

Also moving online are the NewsLocal titles in NSW and ACT: Fairfield Advance, Penrith Press, Macarthur Chronicle, Blacktown Advocate, Canterbury Bankstown Express, Central Coast Express, Hills Shire Times, Hornsby Advocate, Liverpool Leader, Manly Daily, Northern District Times, Parramatta Advertiser, Inner West Courier, Southern Courier, Illawarra Star, Wagga Wagga News, St George Shire Standard, Canberra Star, Newcastle News, Blue Mountains News, Central Sydney, South Coast News.

Queensland titles to cease printing are: Albert and Logan News, Caboolture Herald, Westside News, Pine Rivers Press, Redcliffe and Bayside Herald, South-West News, Wynnum Herald, North Lakes Times, Redlands Community News, Springfield News.

South Australian papers to cease printing and move to digital are: Messenger South Plus; Messenger East Plus, Messenger North, Messenger West, Messenger City, Adelaide Hills and Upper Spencer Gulf.


Amanda Meade

The GuardianTramp

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