Fair­fax moves closer to dig­i­tal

The Bulletin - - News -

THE ed­i­to­rial re­struc­ture of Fair­fax Me­dia dailies The Syd

ney Morn­ing Her­ald and The Age un­der dis­cus­sion be­tween man­age­ment and staff takes the com­pany an­other step fur­ther in its dig­i­tal-first pol­icy.

The re­struc­ture was an­nounced in Fe­bru­ary by Fair­fax ed­i­to­rial di­rec­tor Sean Aly­mer, who is con­duct­ing a se­ries of meet­ings to ex­plain the changes to staff.

The di­rec­tion of the com­pany in its drive to­wards dig­i­tal was reaf­firmed by Fair­fax chief ex­ec­u­tive Greg Hy­wood in the com­pany’s sec­ond-half re­port to share­hold­ers.

“We have made it clear many times that we are man­ag­ing a struc­tural shift in pub­lish­ing from print to dig­i­tal,” he said.

“We con­tinue to adapt our business model to this re­al­ity, which in­volves an in­tense fo­cus on cost re­duc­tion and the cre­ation of new rev­enue op­por­tu­ni­ties. We have man­aged this well over re­cent years and have ab­so­lute con­fi­dence we will con­tinue to man­age it in the fu­ture.

“This will in­evitably mean an even stronger em­pha­sis on dig­i­tal pub­lish­ing. We are ready to meet this sig­nif­i­cant op­por­tu­nity as con­sumer pref­er­ences de­mand.”

The com­pany says the new struc­ture is de­signed to sim­plify news­room work­flows and give re­porters and edi­tors more au­ton­omy to man­age work­loads and cre­ate con­tent that meets the 24/7 de­mands of their au­di­ence.

It will also re­sult in a clearer de­lin­eation be­tween the con­tent cre­ation and con­tent dis­tri­bu­tion arms of the news­rooms.

Mr Aylmer said this ap­proach would strengthen Fair­fax’s au­di­ence-first ap­proach.

“The re­porters and edi­tors in the news­rooms will re­main fo­cused on great sto­ries, videos, graph­ics, pho­tos and mul­ti­me­dia. The dis­tri­bu­tion arm of the news­room will get that con­tent to the big­gest and best pos­si­ble au­di­ence via all chan­nels avail­able, dig­i­tally and in print,” Mr Aylmer said.

New roles will be cre­ated and some roles al­tered as part of the re­struc­ture, how­ever The News­pa­per Works un­der­stands re­dun­dan­cies are not ex­pected. The Age and The Syd­ney

Morn­ing Her­ald will each have an ed­i­tor-in-chief re­spon­si­ble for con­tent cre­ation across print and dig­i­tal, how­ever they will no longer be solely re­spon­si­ble for how that con­tent is pack­aged for dis­tri­bu­tion. This will be han­dled through two new roles, head of dig­i­tal chan­nels and head of print chan­nels, with edi­tors-in-chief re­tain­ing ul­ti­mate re­spon­si­bil­ity for all con­tent wher­ever it is viewed.

The two mast­heads will also each have an ed­i­tor who will take some of the re­spon­si­bil­i­ties of the cur­rent news di­rec­tors, but not be re­spon­si­ble for the pro­duc­tion of the news­pa­pers. They will re­port to their re­spec­tive ed­i­tor-in-chief and head of dig­i­tal chan­nels.

The role of topic ed­i­tor has also been sub­stan­tially ex­panded as they as­sume the day-to-day re­spon­si­bil­ity for sto­ries and con­tent, roles pre­vi­ously per­formed by news di­rec­tors. Lo­cal topic edi­tors will re­port to their re­spec­tive ed­i­tor-in-chief and na­tional topic edi­tors will re­port to both.

Co­in­cid­ing with the re­struc­ture, ed­i­tor-in-chief of The Age Andrew Holden an­nounced his res­ig­na­tion after 13 years with the com­pany. This in­cluded a stint as ed­i­tor of The Press, in Christchurch, New Zealand, at the time of 2011 earthquake that re­sulted in the death of one em­ployee and se­ri­ous in­juries to two oth­ers.

Mr Holden was praised for his lead­er­ship as the news­pa­per and staff strug­gled to re­cover and main­tain op­er­a­tions.

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