They can strike for a year for all I care:
JOURNALISTS at The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald have voted to immediately strike for one week after Fairfax Media announced major cuts to editorial staff.
Fairfax Media earlier today said it is cutting 25 per cent of its remaining metropolitan journalist staff — equal to 125 full-time jobs — in an effort to help save $30 million across its Australian newspaper operations.
The Age and Sydney Morning Herald’s journalists then voted at stop-work meetings to walk off the job for one week, which means its journalists will not cover the Federal Budget on Tuesday.
The Brisbane Times’ journalists also walked off for seven days.
Fairfax is cutting costs in the face of declining advertising and circulations and told staff on Wednesday it is looking to cut positions across The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, Brisbane Times and WA Today.
“While we will be looking across all parts of the newsroom, at the end of the redundancy program we expect there will be significantly fewer editorial management, video, presentation and section writer roles,” the company said in an internal note.
Staff have been given a deadline of Tuesday to nominate for a voluntary redundancy, with a decision to be made by May 12.
The journalists’ union, the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance, said in a statement that Fairfax staff were “disgusted” by the job cuts decision. “None of the other parts of the Fairfax business are worth anything without the journalism and yet it is the journalism that Fairfax always cuts,” MEAA chief executive Paul Murphy said.
“The editorial staff are really angry. They think the company has made a terrible decision that is not in the best interests of the company, its audience or its staff.”
Fairfax axed 120 editorial jobs from its newsrooms in Sydney and Melbourne a year ago in an earlier cost-cutting exercise and outlined its latest target last month.
Ad revenue for Fairfax’s metropolitan media arm plummeted 16.6 per cent in the first half of the current financial year, with its real estate classifieds business its most profitable.
Domain generated 39 per cent of Fairfax’s total earnings in the first half of 2016/17 and is subject to a review that looks likely to end with it being spun off into a standalone business.
Fairfax is also reducing its casual workforce with the saving of $3 million, reviewing its third-party contracts and auditing all contributors.
The cuts come as regulators rejected a proposed merger between NZME and Fairfax Media’s New Zealand operations, saying the benefits of saving money and extending the life of some newspapers did not outweigh the harm it would cause to democracy.
New Zealand’s Commerce Commission announced its final decision a year after Fairfax Media and NZME proposed the move.
The companies sent a flurry of late submissions arguing that they needed to pool resources to compete with online giants like Google and Facebook, but the commission stuck with a preliminary decision it made in November.
The Commission said the combined company would have controlled nearly 90 percent of the daily newspaper market and a majority of traffic to online New Zealand news.
“This merger would concentrate media ownership and influence to an unprecedented extent for a well-established modern liberal democracy,” Commission Chairman Mark Berry said in a statement.
He said the merger would have reduced the quality of news and the diversity of voices and argued competition between news outlets resulted in better content.
Both Fairfax and NZME said they were disappointed by the decision. Fairfax said it would need to cut costs and consolidate some of its publications, while NZME said it was considering its options.
In April, the company announced a major structural overhaul to editorial operations aimed at delivering about $30 million in annual savings.
The changes affected newsrooms at The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, Brisbane Times and WAToday.