Herald jobs shift to New Zealand

FAIRFAX Media has announced it will proceed with plans to move 66 editorial production jobs from its regional mastheads to New Zealand.

Negotiations between the company and the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance ended yesterday with the company rejecting an alternative cost-saving plan proposed by the union.

The move means 41 editorial production positions will be made redundant at the Newcastle Herald, Port Stephens Examiner, Lakes Mail, Myall Coast Nota and Newcastle Star. A further 25 redundancies will occur at the Illawarra Mercury.

‘‘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,’’ Fairfax chief executive officer Greg Hywood said yesterday.

‘‘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 operates across Australia and New Zealand and we will use our resources in the most efficient way possible and in the best interests of our readers and advertisers.

‘‘All of our New Zealand publications are produced by Fairfax Editorial Services and all remain individually connected to their own local and regional markets.”

The union said yesterday’s decision came after significant public backlash and in spite of the alternative solution proposed by the union, which would have kept jobs in Australia.

‘‘Fairfax has ignored its readers and instead has taken the axe to two great newspapers with proud histories of more than 150 years of service to their communities,” MEAA acting federal secretary Paul Murphy said.

‘‘It isn’t ‘customer centricity’, it’s customer contempt.’’

The news agency Australian Associated Press has also cut editorial jobs.

The decision to make 13 jobs redundant follows similar moves by Fairfax and News Ltd, the major shareholders in AAP.

‘‘Recent losses in revenue, which in the main comes from media customers, have placed significant pressure on the business and must be addressed,’’ AAP editor in chief Tony Gillies said yesterday.

Mr Gillies said he spoke to journalists in affected departments yesterday and would meet with employees over the next week.

He said AAP was committed to remaining an important part of the Australian media.

‘‘These developments do not alter AAP’s plans to refine its news wires to ensure they remain relevant in this fast-paced, ever-changing and demanding digital media environment,’’ he said.

Mr Murphy said the MEAA would push for voluntary redundancies during a meeting with AAP management today.

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