Freelancers take over as 16 photographers, nine more go at News

Further centralisation of News Corp's Australian operations will see 25 more editorial jobs go before Christmas.

Photographers took the brunt of this latest round of redundancies in what has been a hard year for News staff with the closure of more than 100 print editions.

Guardian Australia reported that staff photographers on the Queensland Courier-Mail were summoned to a meeting to be told of the redundancies, which total 16 nationally. The publisher "will use freelancers next year".

Some six editorial roles are also being thinned, with business reporting centralised in the New Year, and a team under Peter Blunden to share reporting, subediting and editorial production roles nationally. News' Tasmanian daily, the Mercury looks set to lose more of its autonomy with three positions being cut.

A News spokesman said a "limited number" of staff were being made redundant as the Murdoch-owned publisher moved to "a new way of working similar to many news organisations internationally".

This reflected "the successful model we've established for our news and sport networks, which are generating strong subscriber growth and brilliant, specialist journalism, and will complement the soon-to-launch Australian business network to deliver the best in finance reporting".

Journalists' union the MEAA said it was "disappointed with the decision to cut more jobs just six months after News closed mastheads and restructured its local community and regional newspaper businesses".

MEAA media acting director Adam Portelli that "so many redundancy rounds following hard one after the other, created a climate of uncertainty and fear for the staff who remain.

"It also piles on the pressure as they try to cope with the inevitable increased workload.

"Losing so many photographers whose images tell their own powerful stories, means many years of experience and particular skills will be lost. Also, production staff are the gatekeepers of quality in a newspaper - at a time when media credibility is vital to retaining valued readers, any loss of key production roles is deeply regrettable."

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