Journalists at Fairfax Media, one of Australia’s largest publishers, have gone on strike for a week to protest against massive job cuts.
Fairfax said on Wednesday it would cut 125 editorial jobs – a quarter of its newsroom – to absorb slumping revenues.
In response, staff will strike until after next week’s federal budget, one of the year’s biggest local news days.
Fairfax’s outlets include the Sydney Morning Herald, Melbourne’s The Age and the Australian Financial Review.
The latest cuts come in addition to restructuring and cuts in recent years.
The Sydney Morning Herald’s chief political correspondent James Massola tweeted “On strike for a week”, while his colleague Judith Ireland urged that “quality journalism needs actual journalists to do the job”.
Like most media outlets around the globe, Fairfax is suffering from falling circulation of its print editions and declining advertising revenue.
The fresh staff cuts were announced along with plans to scale back the use of freelancers.
A ‘dumb move’?
“While we will be looking across all parts of the newsroom, at the end of the redundancy program we expect there will be significantly fewer editorial management, video, presentation and section writer roles,” the publisher is quoted as saying in an internal note.
Australia’s Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance, which represents the country’s journalists, strongly criticised the planned cuts at Fairfax as a “dumb move”.
“This will only undermine and damage its mastheads further, alienating its audience and leaving the editorial staff that remain to work harder and harder to fill the gaps,” chief executive Paul Murphy said.
Fairfax is the main rival to Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp Australia, which is also suffering from falling revenues and also has announced plans to cut jobs.