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Fairfax journalists strike over job cuts

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UPDATED: Journalists at the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age have voted to strike for a week after Fairfax Media announced it would cut about 25 per cent of the jobs at its major Australian newspapers.

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“BREAKING: Sydney Morning Herald journalists vote to strike for a full week in response to job cuts,” Fairfax federal editor Bevan Shields tweeted on Wednesday afternoon.

Colleague Michael Koziol, who also writes for both the Herald and The Age in Melbourne, tweeted: “Sydney Morning Herald journalists have voted to walk off the job for one week – we are on strike.”

The strike will cover a busy news week which includes Tuesday’s federal Budget.

Australia’s oldest publisher told staff today it is looking to lose 125 staff from the newsrooms of The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and WA Today.

“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 company said in an internal note.

News revenue and print circulation have long been in decline, but the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance slammed the move, saying it is “appalled” and the decision will weaken Fairfax’s business.

“None of the other parts of the Fairfax business are worth anything without the journalism and yet it is the journalism that Fairfax always cuts,” MEAA chief executive Paul Murphy said.

“This will only undermine and damage its mastheads further, alienating its audience and leaving the editorial staff remain have to work harder and harder to fill the gaps.

“This is a dumb decision.”

Fairfax has set staff a deadline of Tuesday for expressions of interest in voluntary redundancy, with a decision to be made by May 12.

Fairfax chief executive Greg Hywood already warned on Wednesday of cuts in New Zealand after the country’s competition watchdog blocked a merger with NZME.

Fairfax is also reducing its casual workforce with the saving of $3 million, reviewing its third-party contracts and auditing all contributors.

Announcing the $30 million target last month, director of Australian metro publishing Chris Janz said Fairfax was committed to print publishing “for many years … so long as our newspapers have an audience and advertise”.

– AAP

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