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MP savages Fairfax Media on staff and content cuts across north-west NSW rural newspapers

Media Release

NORTHERN Tablelands MP Adam Marshall has today hit out at Fairfax Media, slamming the news group for the cuts announced yesterday to local newspaper journalist and staff numbers in the region.

Fairfax Media confirmed yesterday there would be 22 jobs cut across the region which included all newspapers in the Northern Tablelands electorate as well as the Tamworth, Gunnedah, Walcha and Tenterfield publications.

Mr Marshall said while Fairfax hadn’t been upfront with the community about the nature of the cuts, he understood that more than 12 jobs had been slated to go across the Armidale Express and Extra, Inverell Times, Moree Champion, Glen Innes Examiner, Walcha News and Guyra Argus.  That figure includes five editorial jobs. Fairfax

The Guyra Argus and Walcha News offices will also be closed and single journalists will write news for those papers from Armidale.

While the MP welcomed the decision not to axe any mastheads from the region and retain the current publication frequency, he has strong doubts the remaining staff will be able to meet the workload required to maintain the publications’ local content.

“This news is a real kick in the guts to many journalists and other staff working at our local newspapers. I really feel for them in this difficult time,” Mr Marshall said.

“I am very annoyed with the patronising attitude of Fairfax senior management in not be completely upfront with the community the impacts of these cuts and changes in structure.

“I acknowledge that media across all marketplaces are struggling to maintain services in the digital media world, but what Fairfax fails to understand is that the impacts of these cuts goes far beyond the jobs lost, it strikes at the heart of our communities, their spirit and cohesiveness which our local papers champion and nourish.

“I am also very concerned about the logistics of delivering the same level of service and local content in our local newspapers with substantially fewer journalists on the ground.

“Make no mistake this is the thin edge of the wedge. As local content drops off in our papers so will the local readership and advertising and the next thing we know Fairfax will be retiring mastheads across the region. This is totally the wrong approach.”

Mr Marshall is urging local communities to rally behind their local newspapers, speak up and tell Fairfax that they won’t accept this sort of heavy-handed treatment of their local newspapers.

“Job losses in a small community will have an immediate impact, however it is also the dilution of our local voices that is of real concern to me and many others I have spoken to today,” he said.

“I fail to understand how fewer journalists can deliver the same number of publications each week and retain the local content that we currently enjoy.

“This is a commercial decision by Fairfax Media, but I object to having these cuts forced onto our community and being expected to just accept it.

“Local newspapers are our record of history, the heart of our towns and have a place in our homes.

“I do not believe that Fairfax Media senior management understand how much our local newspapers mean to us, nor apply the same reduction ration in their city newsrooms, so why should we cop it?”

The community can provide feedback to Fairfax by emailing their views to [email protected]