'Dumb move': Fairfax journalists in Australia go on strike over job cuts

By on
Fairfax
A man leaves the Fairfax Media headquarters in Sydney August 23, 2012. Reuters/Daniel Munoz

Fairfax Media, one of the largest publishers in Australia, declared on Wednesday that it would cut 125 editorial jobs to deal with falling revenue. In response to the announcement, journalists from the Down Under went on a strike for a week to protest against the decision, which affected a quarter of the publisher’s newsroom.

James Massola, chief political correspondent of Sydney Morning Herald, expressed his sentiments on Twitter. “On strike for a week,” he wrote, while his colleague Judith Ireland said that “quality journalism needs actual journalists to do the job.” Australia's Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance slammed the planned job cuts and called it a “dumb move.”

The organisation, which represents the country’s journalists, believes that the decision will weaken Fairfax's business. Chief executive Paul Murphy said job cuts will only do further damage to the publisher’s mastheads, alienate its audience and leave the editorial staff that remains to work harder to fill the gaps.

On strike for a week

A spokesman for the company assured that mastheads would publish as usual during the strike action. The spokesperson also said that the decision by some of the masthead journalists to perform an industrial action for seven days is disappointing after a consultation period, which lasted for a month, about the changes needed for the business. BBC reports that the publisher is expecting “significantly fewer editorial management, video, presentation and section writer roles at the end of its redundancy program according to an internal note.

Simon Mawhinney, managing director of shareholder Allan Gray, said the job cuts were no surprise."There are some very significant challenges," The Australian quoted him.

Fairfax is reportedly dealing with falling circulation of its print editions and dropping advertising revenue. Sydney Morning Herald notes that ad revenue for the publisher’s metropolitan media arm dropped 16.6 percent in the first half of the current financial year.

The jobs cuts, particularly of fresh staff, were announced along with plans to scale back the use of freelancers. Last year, Fairfax cut 120 editorial jobs from its newsrooms in Sydney and Melbourne. Melbourne's The Age, the Australian Financial Review and Sydney Morning Herald are some of Fairfax Media’s media outlets.

Meanwhile, Chris Janz, director of Australian metro publishing, was confident that Fairfax would continue to print publishing for many years. Fairfax Media is perceived as the greatest rival of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp Australia, which had also announced job cuts across its newsrooms.

SBS VICELAND/YouTube

Read more: Australia to review migrants rule for Chinese millionaires, other applicants as data shows they boost property markets

List of schools to have their funding cut under Turnbull government