Fairfax Media has commenced a process of consultation with its Australian Metro Publishing newsrooms on proposed changes which will complete what Fairfax calls the major structural editorial changes required to secure the futures of the metropolitan mastheads.
Fairfax Media’s new managing director of Australian metro publishing Chris Janz said yesterday: “With the proposed changes to The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, Brisbane Times and WAToday newsrooms announced today, we will have completed the major structural editorial changes required to secure our metropolitan mastheads.
“The primary focus of Fairfax Media over recent years has been to lay the groundwork for the creation of a sustainable publishing model. We are now within reach of that goal.
“Including non-staff costs the proposal is expected to deliver approximately $30 million in annualised savings with the majority of these savings expected in the 2018 financial year.
“The changes announced today will prepare us for a stronger future, with a business focused on growth and innovation, and an unwavering commitment to quality, independent journalism.
“Our publications will be genuine digital businesses with the capabilities and cost base to best operate in the current media environment. We will be introducing an innovative mix of new products to deliver our audience focused, quality journalism and maximise our revenue opportunities. We will continue to print for many years, so long as our newspapers have an audience and advertisers.”
Reaction to the Fairfax announcement includes:
Bridget Carter and Scott Murdoch in The Australian
Fairfax’s revelation that $30 million in costs will be stripped out of the business has been seen as a typical Macquarie-devised strategy to push up the price that private equity could have to eventually pay.
A five-page mission statement by Sean Aylmer sent to staff clarified little and the move was seen by rival bankers as a strategy to lift the share price and make TPG’s task to buy all of Fairfax tougher.
Chief executive Greg Hywood is keen for a private equity syndicate to buy the company, rather than TPG going it alone.
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Jessica Gardner in The AFR:
Chris Janz, who has been in the job seven weeks, did not outline the number of expected job losses. However, it is understood the majority will come from the Herald and The Age. The company will consider cutting other costs such as external contributors and content syndication.
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