News Corp stops presses in community and regional digital push

News Corp Australasia has announced major changes to its newspaper publishing with the bulk of its regional and community newspapers to be produced in a digital only format from June 29 with some smaller community papers to close completely.

News Corp Australasia executive chairman Michael Miller said Covid-19 had impacted the sustainability of community and regional publishing and this combined with readers increasingly opting to access news material online had led to the decision.

“COVID-19 has impacted the sustainability of community and regional publishing.  Despite the audiences of News Corp’s digital mastheads growing more than 60 per cent 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,” Miller said.

News Corp has conducted an extensive review of its portfolio to come to this decision with the review considering ongoing consumer shift to reading and subscribing to news online and the acceleration of businesses using digital advertising.

A spokesman for News Corp told Sprinter it was unclear at this point what exact impact this would have on print sites as the company was still working through the detail. News Corp and Fairfax, now Nine, share print sites across the country.

News Corp has confirmed the changes will mean some job roles will change and there will also be job losses.

Miller has thanked those employees that have been impacted by the changes for their professionalism, dedication and contribution.

“They have provided News with invaluable years of service. Their passionate commitment to the communities in which they live and work and their role in ensuring these have been informed and served by trusted local media has been substantial,” he said.

“These initiatives are significant. They will involve fundamental changes to how we operate our business but they are necessary.  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.

“Consequently, to meet these changing trends, we are reshaping News Corp Australia to focus on where consumers and businesses are moving and to strengthen our position as Australia’s leading digital news media company. This will involve employing more digital only journalists and making investments in digital advertising and marketing solutions for our partners.”

Under the changes, major regional titles The Hobart Mercury, NT News, Cairns Post, Townsville Bulletin, Gold Coast Bulletin, Toowoomba Chronicle and Geelong Advertiser will continue to be published both in print and digitally.

The titles to shift to a digital only format include: 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 bulk of News Corp’s community group titles – NewsLocal in NSW/ACT, Leader in Melbourne, Quest in Brisbane and Messenger in Adelaide – will also become digital only. Community print editions were suspended early in April because of the impact of COVID-19 restrictions.

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 will resume print editions.

Some small print newspapers will cease publication, but News Corp says the local journalism coverage of their area will feed into the digital masthead for their regional community.

Regional titles to cease publication are: 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.

News Corp says it streamline community titles and will publish local stories under their regional or city-based masthead.

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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3 thoughts on “News Corp stops presses in community and regional digital push

  1. In the same way Ovato NZ is using the demise of Bauer as an opportunity to get into publishing, these closures should open opportunities for regional printers to set up local newspapers.

    It used to be the way – local printer/publisher – until the big companies got their mitts on them.

    But just because Murdoch can’t make a newspaper in Orange work doesn’t mean the business model is dead.

    Some businesses just can’t work if you put too much management on top of them. Any economies of scale they might get from sharing a press or administrative back-end are more than obliterated by the cost of maintaining a head office filled with useless executives and stock market-requirement box-tickers.

    If you own a printing press in any of the areas Murdoch is abandoning, find out who was still advertising in the last print edition (because they still believe in print) and ring them for the business. Hire a journo part time, get your designer to lay it out and distribute it yourself (or by Australia Post).

    You don’t have to cover the whole area – pick the profitable areas and stick to that.

    Some good opportunities here perhaps.

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