In a "portfolio change" that could put hundreds of people out of work, News Corp has announced that it will cease operations for many community titles in Australia and move more than 100 others to digital-only publication.
The company's statement on the matter did not specify the number of jobs to be impacted, choosing to focus on positives such as recent growth in audience figures and digital subscriptions. It also pinned blame for the changes on the COVID-19 pandemic.
“COVID-19 has impacted the sustainability of community and regional publishing," Michael Miller, executive chairman of News Corp Australasia, said in the statement. "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."
The moves, effective June 29, reshape the company to focus on where consumers and businesses are moving, Miller added, by employing more digital-only journalists and making investments in digital advertising and marketing solutions.
News Corp's move away from print follows a series of painful stories from across the publishing business. Just yesterday, HT Media, the publisher of Hindustan Times, Mint and Hindustan, reportedly laid off more than 100 staff. In addition the industry has seen the closure or possibly sale of the Australian Associated Press (partly owned by News Corp), cuts by Buzzfeed and Quartz impacting Australia and Hong Kong, and the shutdown of major Malaysian magazine publisher Blu Inc, which eliminated 200 jobs. In addition, more than 150 Australian newsrooms may have closed, Nine Entertainment sold its New Zealand publishing company Stuff for $1, and Ten closed its 10 Daily operation, eliminating 20 journalist jobs.