Fairfax Media announces plan to cut up to 125 newsroom staff

The company aims to achieve savings of $30m

Fairfax Media editorial director Sean Aylmer has reported back to staff today about the company’s plans to create “a sustainable newsroom for the future”.

Aylmer said working groups, one-on-one discussions with the editors and online submissions have provided ways to save money and more efficiently structure newsrooms.

Fairfax Media has told staff this morning it has decided to achieve savings of $30m in the following four ways:

Contributors: We will move to a capped rate model for all contributors to the SMH, Age and AFR. Initially we will undertake an audit of all contributors, and subject to contractual arrangements, shift all contributors to a pay rate based on per article, rather than per word. There has been general consensus on this change.

Third-party deals: All third-party deals are being reviewed, and we expect to make significant savings from our third party arrangements including syndication deals.

Casuals: We will significantly reduce the use of the casual workforce in the three main mastheads and estimate savings of around $3 million per year.

Reduction in full-time and part-time staff: We will shortly open a voluntary redundancy program to achieve a reduction in staff of up to 125 FTEs, which includes the approximate 10 FTEs that have left the newsroom since this process began last month. 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. Further, we note that the voluntary redundancy process will provide a procedure for employees in these areas to potentially be redeployed if available and suitable positions open up elsewhere.

Some of the restructure revealed by Aylmer includes:
Creation of a news director
Reduction in state-based topics
The AM and PM editors to be replaced by news editors
Creation of a national creative director and a national head of video
Creation of a new head of travel and food

A voluntary redundancy program will be formally opened this week.

It will be open to all editorial staff in News, Business and Life Media covered by the Enterprise Agreement.

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