News Corp Australia's push for digitisation to lead to job losses

Darnell Taylor
May 29, 2020

Over 100 of News Corp's regional and community titles will move from print to digital-only editions from June 29, resulting in hundreds of job losses.

From next month, the company which dominates Australia's media and political landscape said it would take 76 regional mastheads online only and shut another 36 altogether.

"Covid-19 has impacted the sustainability of community and regional publishing", Michael Miller, executive chairman of News Corp Australasia, said in a statement Thursday.

The media giant said there would "regretfully" be job losses associated with the announcement, but the exact number remains unclear.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is in July to release draft rules for the platforms to pay fair compensation for content siphoned from news media.

Miller said the review found numerous publication's print mastheads were challenged by both the impact of the pandemic, and tech platforms like Facebook and Google not paying publishers for their content.

"These initiatives are significant", Mr Miller said.

The continuing decline in physical newspapers only makes digital assets and premium domain names increasingly valuable, especially those which compete with local community newspapers and those who continue to maintain long established news and information platforms as all publishers battle for the same online reader and subscriber.

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These become digital only: Queensland - Mackay Daily Mercury, Rockhampton Morning Bulletin, Gladstone Observer, Bundaberg News Mail, Fraser Coast Chronicle, Gympie Times, Sunshine Coast Daily, Queensland Times, Warwick Daily News, Central and North Burnett Times, Central Queensland News, Chinchilla News, Dalby Herald.

Some small print newspapers will cease publication, but the local journalism coverage of their area will continue, feeding into the digital masthead for their regional community.

The union representing media workers was still trying to figure out just how many staff would lose their jobs, but said it thought it could be up to 150 people.

"Working with reduced budgets, we have had to make some extremely hard decisions", said CBS News President Susan Zirinsky in a memo to employees.

News Corp, for its part, says it will work to still cover local communities by continuing to fund some reporting that end up in its national, regional or city newspapers.

"They're in a very hard state".

Australian Local Government Association president David O'Loughlin said it was another blow for regional communities.

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