NZ Herald confirms redundancies

WILLIAM MACE
Last updated 13:11 29/11/2012

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The New Zealand Herald has confirmed up to eight editorial staff will be made redundant due to restructuring at the news organisation.

Owned by ASX-listed company APN News & Media, the paper's main Auckland newsroom now serves print and online content through its weekday editions, the Weekend Herald, the APNZ news wire, NZHerald.co.nz, and the Herald on Sunday.

Tim Murphy, the editor-in-chief of NZ Herald titles, said this morning that the eight jobs would be lost across the main news desk as well as the sports, business and photography departments.

The changes would bring all the departments under a tighter management team across online and print as well as over all seven days of the week, including the Sunday edition which has traditionally been run separately.

While Murphy said the cuts would not target senior staff specifically, the company wanted to streamline its "decision-making" process.

The Herald intended to replace existing separate department editors for its weekday, weekend, Sunday and online editions with editors responsible for sports, business, news and illustrations across all editions and formats.

"This is more pertaining to decision making across all those channels, so that sports editors and business editors and the news desk people will be directing across [print and online] channels," Murphy said.

He said there had not yet been any volunteers for redundancy, but individual staff requests would need to be balanced with whether they fit into the strategy behind the restructuring.

APN News & Media has made no secret of its intention to shake-up its New Zealand businesses after a $480 million write-down in the value of its metropolitan mastheads earlier this year.

The Herald's weekday print edition moved to a compact size in September and last week APN decided to sell The Star in Christchurch, the Oamaru Mail and the Capital Community Newspaper group in Wellington in order to focus on operations further north.

Online pay-walls could be on the horizon although there are no solid plans for that yet.

Murphy said the restructuring at The Herald was part of ongoing work to integrate print content with digital content, which in turn helped to deliver on the cost savings being demanded.

"In terms of gathering and bringing the news to our audiences, those numbers are going to stay pretty much the same," he said.

"Some decision-making, some allocation and direction and assigning: those sorts of things are some of the roles we're talking about here [which will be restructured]."

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Murphy said staff had been advised of the proposal yesterday and the restructuring would be confirmed "early in December".

- BusinessDay.co.nz

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