News Corp Australia, the nation's biggest premium news publisher, announced a fundamental change to its business, switching focus to digital from print and closing some community and regional titles.
The move, in the face of a surge in audience numbers during the pandemic but a fall advertising, will mean job losses.
How many will lose their roles hasn't been revealed. Previous reports put this in the hundreds.
However, News says the changes also also mean employing more digital only journalists and making investments in digital advertising and marketing solutions.
From June 29, the bulk of News Corp’s regional and community titles will move to purely digital publishing. More than 375 journalists will be specifically covering regional and community news and information.
But some job roles will change and "regretfully, will lead to job losses".
Executive chairman of News Corp Australasia, Michael Miller, says a comprehensive review considered the ongoing consumer shift to reading and subscribing to news online, and the acceleration of businesses using digital advertising.
“COVID-19 has impacted the sustainability of community and regional publishing," he says.
"Despite the audiences of News Corp’s digital mastheads growing more than 60% as Australians turned to trusted media sources during the peak of the recent COVID-19 lockdowns, print advertising spending which contributes the majority of our revenues, has accelerated its decline."
Milelr described the changes as significant.
"They will involve fundamental changes to how we operate our business but they are necessary," he says.
"Together with senior executive and editorial appointments announced recently, they will enable us to be more effective in driving further success in the growth areas News Corp is excelling in such as digital advertising products, solutions and subscriptions and will embed a more collaborative way of working to maximise our sport and news coverage, hyper local digital subscriptions and the success of our all-important weekend editions.”
Major regional titles - The Hobart Mercury, NT News, Cairns Post, Townsville Bulletin, Gold Coast Bulletin, Toowoomba Chronicle and Geelong Advertiser – will continue to publish both in print and digitally.
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. Gatton Star, Noosa News, South Burnett Times, Stanthorpe Border Post, Western Star, Western Times, Whitsunday Times, Whitsunday Coast Guardian and Bowen Independent, news from the towns covered by the Atherton Tablelander, Northern Miner, Post Douglas & Mossman Gazette and Burdekin Advocate will continue to appear, as it does currently, under the regional sections of the Cairns Post and Townsville Bulletin; NSW – Tweed Daily News, Ballina Advocate, Byron Shire News, Coffs Coast Advocate, Grafton Daily Examiner and Lismore Northern Star; Northern Territory - The Centralian Advocate.
The community titles to be digital-only news services are:
Melbourne Leader titles - Stonnington, Mornington Peninsula, Knox, Whitehorse, Monash, Northern, Whittlesea, Maroondah, Moorabbin, Mordialloc Chelsea, Moreland, Lilydale and Yarra Valley, Frankston, Bayside, Caulfield Port Phillip, Cranbourne, Greater Dandenong, Moonee Valley, Maribyrnong, Wyndham;
NewsLocal in NSW and ACT - Fairfield Advance, Penrith Press, Macarthur Chronicle, Blacktown Advocate, Canterbury Bankstown Express, Central Coast Express, Hills Shire Times, Hornsby Advocate, Liverpool Leader, Manly Daily, Northern District Times, Parramatta Advertiser, Inner West Courier, Southern Courier, Illawarra Star, Wagga Wagga News, St George Shire Standard, Canberra Star, Newcastle News, Blue Mountains News, Central Sydney, South Coast News;
Quest in Queensland - Albert and Logan News, Caboolture Herald, Westside News, Pine Rivers Press, Redcliffe and Bayside Herald, South-West News, Wynnum Herald, North Lakes Times, Redlands Community News, Springfield News;
Messenger in SA - Messenger South Plus; Messenger East Plus, Messenger North, Messenger West, Messenger City, Adelaide Hills and Upper Spencer Gulf.
Three Sydney community titles, Wentworth Courier, Mosman Daily and North Shore Times, which are distributed in the city’s most affluent suburbs, will resume print editions.
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 regional titles to cease publication: Queensland - Buderim Chronicle, Caloundra Weekly, Capricorn Coast Mirror, Coolum News, Nambour Weekly, Ipswich Advertiser, Kawana/Maroochy Weekly, Gold Coast Sun, Hervey Bay Independent, Maryborough Herald, Balonne Beacon, Surat Basin News, Herbert River Express, Innisfail Advocate, Central Telegraph; NSW - Coastal Views, Northern Rivers Echo, Richmond River Express Examiner; Tasmania - Tasmanian Country; Specialist - Big Rigs, Rural Weekly, Seniors.
The community titles which will cease publication are: Leader titles in Victoria - Manningham, Preston, Diamond Valley, Heidelberg, Sunbury Macedon, Progress and Northcote; NewsLocal in NSW - Rouse Hill Times; Quest in Queensland - Northside Chronicle/Bayside Star, North-West News, South-East Advertiser, Southern Star, Bribie Weekly; and South Australia - Messenger Coast Plus.
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