Fairfax moves closer to digital
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.