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AUSTRALIA: Journalists go on strike at six newspapers


Journalists and photographers on strike at The Age newspaper yesterday. Image: blog.wan-ifra.org

Friday, May 9, 2014

Item: 8600

SYDNEY (Pacific Media Watch / New Matilda): Journalists on six Australian newspapers have gone on strike over plans by newspaper bosses to slash another 70 editorial and photographic jobs.

About 600 journalists and photographers at The Age, The Australian Financial Review, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Canberra TimesThe Newcastle Herald and The Illawarra Mercury, all owned by Fairfax took unprotected industrial action for 24 hours on Wednesday.

In response, Fairfax management threatened to fire them or dock their pay.

Fairfax has already slashed 150 jobs on its Australian newspapers over the past two years.

The Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance journalists union said yesterday that 30 of the finest photojournalists in the country faced the axe and that only 10 photographers would be left in the entire newsgroup, to cover the whole of Australia.

"Management chose to give affected staff members 20 minutes’ notice ahead of meetings in which many were told their jobs had disappeared. Others found out about the threat to their jobs via email" said MEAA federal secretary Chris Warren.

70 redundant
"In total, 70 people would be made redundant in yet another short-sighted cost-cutting move that is an assault on journalism" said Warren.

"Management’s action shows an inability to discern what is “core” and “non-core” inside Fairfax Media, when photography, writers in sections and production staff acting as the guardians of quality are somehow regarded as 'non-core'," Warren added.

Chris Graham of New Matilda writes that Fairfax should be downsizing highly paid news corporation executives, not journalists and photographers.

He quoted Stuart Washington, the Fairfax house committee chair as saying "there are always other rocks you can look under" [to save money].

Washington told New Matilda that the journalists had even come up with a new business model which could help Fairfax save money.

The new business model was based on more efficient models being used by other media organisations around the world, which allowed a transition from a traditional print medium to a multi-platform digital business without decimating the newsrooms.

Transitioning to digital "should not be used as an excuse for ill-thought out and, frankly, some pretty stupid cost cutting drives," said Washington.

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Pacific Media Watch

PMC's media monitoring service

Pacific Media Watch is compiled for the Pacific Media Centre as a regional media freedom and educational resource by a network of journalists, students, stringers and commentators.
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