News Limited redundancies should be the last
Tuesday, 04 September 2012
The Media Alliance believes the redundancies announced by News Limited this afternoon should be the last round of job losses as the big print media businesses restructure. It is now vital for the industry to focus on investing in journalism and exploiting the opportunities presented by digital technology.
Today’s redundancy announcement by News Limited of up to 80 redundancies from its centralised sub-editing hub NewsCentral and from newspapers in Queensland are a significant loss to the journalism profession. Media Alliance federal secretary Christopher Warren said: “We believe that as many as 1 in 7 journalism jobs in the big newspaper companies have been lost over the winter months – over 300 jobs from News Limited and about 280 jobs from Fairfax Media. Add in casuals and contributors and we believe about 700 people have gone from our two biggest media groups – reporters, sub-editors and photographers working in print and online plus the editorial and administrative staff who worked alongside them,” he said.
“That translates to a massive loss of skills, knowledge and expertise. We are seeing many of the great bylines that we have followed in our newspapers leave the profession. The danger is that there is a vacuum to be filled by those who remain, who face massive work intensification and the need to receive proper training to work in integrated, multi-platform digital newsrooms,” Warren said.
The Media Alliance identified how the change would affect the profession with its landmark report into the future of journalism, Life in the Clickstream that was published in October 2008. “We recognised then that all media, but newspapers in particular, would be crunched by the disruption that digital technology represented and that our profession was facing enormous challenges. It’s taken another four years before the big newspaper groups restructured their businesses to take up the opportunities that digital brings,” he said.
“All new technology creates competition and new players have emerged in the digital space to challenge the incumbents. What must happen now is increased investment in producing quality journalism for audiences that can access news, information and entertainment, how and when they want across a multitude of platforms. The media players that invest in the smart delivery of quality journalism will prosper.”
Warren added that the work of journalists has continued to shine in the face of these challenges. Entries for the 2012 Walkley Awards for Excellence in Journalism closed last Saturday. A staggering 1300 entries were received, once again demonstrating that the role of journalists continues regardless. “We will always ask the tough questions, scrutinise the powerful and exercise our vital role as the fourth estate in a healthy democracy. The platform may change but the need for professional and ethical news does not.”