Last Thursday, New Zealand’s biggest publisher of news Fairfax Media unveiled a proposal to its staff to fundamentally shake up its newsrooms.
There have been several such announcements in recent years and usually a loss of jobs has been part of the plan.
The company was already in the middle of a project called “News Rewired,” transforming its news business for the digital era, so staff had a rough idea what was coming last Thursday.
And so did their colleagues elsewhere (including the national Business review’s Rob Hosking):
Sigh. Phoning round my Fairfax mates tonight, seeing if they're ok. Again.— Rob Hosking (@robhosking) May 28, 2015
The headlines that followed the announcement were more alarming than they expected.
TVNZ for example reported “200 jobs set to go” online, while others reported more than 160 staff would have to re-apply for jobs.
With a total editorial staff of around 650 at Fairfax, that’s a huge upheaval.
Though this tweet from Fairfax Media’s executive editor Sinead Boucher, immediately after a meeting with the journalists’ union, didn’t make it sound so bad.
Unsettling day at Fairfax. Change proposed, overall rise from current editorial numbers, including more reporters. http://t.co/8NeBMIuXyg …— Sinead Boucher (@sineadboucher) May 28, 2015
And a story after that by Fairfax’s business editor said this:
“Fairfax declined to provide numbers of how many roles were affected but executive editor Sinead Boucher said the proposal was not about reducing headcount."
Mediawatch asked Sinead Boucher if it was inevitable Fairfax news division will be thinned out in this latest rejig.