Magazine of Socialist Action in Australia

Journalists strike as Fairfax threatens to cut jobs

By David Elliott

Fairfax Media, which publishes The Age, the Sydney Morning Herald and the Australian Financial Review, told staff in March they would be cutting the equivalent of 120 full-time jobs from the Sydney and Melbourne newsrooms.

The Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance (MEAA), representing journalists, said this could include up to a quarter of the newsroom staff in those cities.

Staff responded with a wildcat strike on March 18 at the Melbourne and Sydney offices, and were joined by colleagues walking out in Brisbane, Canberra, Perth, Newcastle and Illawarra.

Sydney Morning Herald journalist Marcus Strom said to ABC’s Media Watch: “[W]e’ve had a redundancy round every two years. We’ve been sliced thinner and thinner. This time they have come at us with a chainsaw.”

Jobs are being shed by most media companies, including News Corp, as print advertising revenue drops. But these cuts will hamper journalistic content, just as necessary for digital media. Fairfax Group has seen fluctuating revenues in recent years, partly due to restructuring costs, but they still pay shareholders.

Job cuts are part of a market strategy to maximise profitability; shrinking print ad revenue doesn’t make journalism unviable. The social need for journalism doesn’t enter the calculation in a capitalist market.