Print has ‘strong future’ in News Ltd restructure
Sweeping operational changes announced this week by News Limited will see up to a thousand editorial and operational job losses and content sharing across all its digital and print news platforms, but no reduction or closures of its existing newspaper printing facilities.
News’ decision to maintain its existing print facilities stands in stark contrast to Fairfax Media’s new operational strategy, announced only days earlier, which will not only see an estimated 1,900 staff lose their jobs, but also the closure of its two largest newspaper printing facilities at Chullora and Tullamarine.
With Fairfax Media’s decision to downsize its two largest daily metropolitan titles, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, to a compact tabloid-style size, the newspapers’ printing duties will be taken on by the company’s existing regional press facilities. This will leave News Limited’s The Australian as the last remaining broadsheet daily newspaper in the country.
This week’s announcement by News Limited confirms that the rival media companies will both be rationalising their news operations by sharing information across all their news platforms, with a digital first approach and pay walls on all their daily news sites. This information sharing will result in a dramatic reduction of editorial staff numbers for both companies.
On June 20, News Limited CEO, Kim Williams (pictured) unveiled a number of broad-stroke changes to the operations of the company, including the reduction of the number of divisions from 19 to only five in a bid to cut out duplication. While this move will result in heavy, but as-yet-unspecified numbers of job losses to the company’s news operations, it does not intend to close or downsize any of its printing facilities.
In a statement, Williams said that, “print is not dead and has a strong future in which we, for one, have confidence as we build all our future consumer platforms – print, online, tablet, mobile, broadcast and social.”
The company is also vying to strengthen its hold over the FOX television channels, following moves towards a $1.97 billion takeover of James Packer’s Consolidated Media Holdings, which will see it acquire complete ownership of FOX Sports and increase its stake in FOXTEL to 50 per cent. It has been reported that Packer, who owns just over half of Consolidated Media, has responded positively to the share offer.
Additionally, the company has announced it has acquired Australian Independent Business Media (AIBM), publisher of Business Spectator and the Eureka Report. In a statement, Williams said that AIBM was “Australia’s number one pure online business and investment publisher.”
The company will integrate its News Digital Media (NDM) division into its other operations to allow for a fully integrated information-sharing network across all its news titles and platforms.
In a video presentation to employees, Williams said the move to roll NDM into the rest of the News organisation will help to inject “digitally literate thinking into our DNA.”
“We urgently need the skills and insight of our people in news digital media shared across the business, therefore we will no longer run NDM as a separate division,” he said. “We cannot continue with a structure which says that digital is something separate from the other activities of the company.”
Referring to the reduction in divisions and the adoption of a shared-news structure, Williams said that, “to meet our customer needs and to work smarter, we will adopt a one city, one newsroom strategy across our daily Sunday and community products.
“This single newsroom concept will transform our existing metro newsrooms. This doesn’t mean that everyone will physically move to a single location, but it does mean we will manage our editorial operation in each state as a single news network…a create once, publish many times approach,
“I need to be clear that in adopting this national model we will be ensuring that we work as efficiently as possible. Regrettably this means that we will have to make a variety of positions redundant. We cannot say today how many positions will be made redundant, as it will take time to roll out the new model,” he said.