Fangs out for Fairfax ‘Modern Newsroom’

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Fairfax Media’s competitors are piling into the scrap that’s developing over the company’s newsroom transformation. Fairly typical is today’s John Drinnan column in The Business section (headlined “Fairfax shakeup hits 180 staff”).

Drinnan is NZ’s most perspicacious media commentator, and the picture he paints is bleak (he did, however, point out the Herald’s interest) and at complete odds with the bullish press release out of Fairfax yesterday.

Here’s that release in full:

Fairfax moves to create Modern Newsroom

Fairfax Media New Zealand continues its newsroom transformation this week, with a proposal to further organise its editorial operations into focused, local teams and specialist national topic areas.

The proposal underpins a fundamental shift in the way its newsrooms are geared to serve its audience.

Sinead Boucher, Executive Editor at Fairfax Media, says teams in this proposed Modern Newsroom structure will be digital-centric and built around audiences and content – not specific products or mastheads.

“The proposal is not about reducing headcount.  We are boosting our reporting capability in small and large communities, and by streamlining our print-focused production processes, increasing the ratio of content creators from just over half to almost two thirds.” 

Last week Fairfax announced a new editorial leadership team, with roles focussed on audiences across local regions and specialist content areas – including Life & Style, Business, National News and Sport.

“This proposal would change the structure within our editorial teams, creating a Modern Newsroom and allowing us to be perfectly positioned to deliver content in all its forms to our audiences.”

Sinead continues: “We need digital-first, socially driven newsrooms that are structured to produce quality journalism for different audiences and across platforms – and this is an exciting structure geared towards building a dynamic, responsive newsroom.

“It’s an entirely different way of operating that puts our journalists even closer to the communities they cover.”

The Drinnan story also talks of “a raft of appointments to digital roles” at the Herald but – like the Fairfax release – does not dwell on the detail.

  • Read today’s Drinnan column here
  • A more objective summary, written by Nick Grant, has been posted by NBR. Read that story here

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