FAIRFAX Regional Media will proceed with its plan to move 66 editorial production jobs from Australia to New Zealand.
The company had been considering an alternative plan – involving an internal “sub-hub” – put forward by the Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance after staff went on strike over the proposal.
The move with affect 66 staff – including 56 full-timers – at the Illawarra Mercury, Newcastle Herald, the Lake Times, Kiama Independent, Newcastle Star, Myall Coast Nota, Port Stephens Examiner and Lakes Mail.
Fairfax will first call for voluntary redundancies before implementing compulsory redundancies.
Speculation the move would undermine quality was incorrect according to Fairfax chief executive Greg Hywood.
“Behind this decision is a commitment to maintain the Newcastle Herald and Illawarra Mercury’s strength in reporting on all the issues affecting the regions.
“The media industry is competitive and we need to reposition our newspapers as quickly as possible so we can continue to invest in the quality journalism that readers want: local reporting, regional analysis and photography.”
Fairfax Regional Media chief executive Allan Browne said: “The new arrangements reflect the Fairfax group strategy to move non‐core functions to centralised and more efficient operations.
“Given the pace and nature of change in the media, we must be prepared to do things differently.
“I am confident readers will be unaffected by the changes. As we reposition our business we will be far
better placed to continue to serve our communities in new and exciting ways.”
The media union has rejected Fairfax’s decision to go ahead with the offshoring as “near-sighted and wrong”.
“Fairfax management have shown they lack the vision needed to reposition the company in a multi-platform world – a vision their staff have demonstrated in spades over the past fortnight and in the alternative proposal they put forward,” said MEAA acting federal secretary Paul Murphy.
“Our sub-hub proposal would enable skilled subeditors to remain embedded within the community while delivering Fairfax the very cost savings it seeks by offshoring. The proposal preserved the essential quality of the Newcastle Herald and the Illawarra Mercury – their ability to give voice to the concerns of the communities they are part of.
“There is no logic to the announcement the company has made today.”
Mr Murphy also referenced Fairfax chief executive Greg Hywood’s video explaining the company’s culture and values last week.
“One of the values was ‘customer centricity’ … the readers of the Newcastle Herald and the Illawarra Mercury have made it clear that they want their local papers produced locally. Fairfax Media has ignored its customers,” said Mr Murphy.