Magazine of the Socialist Party, Australian section of the CWI

Popular control of media only way to stop job losses

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A number of Australian media outlets have announced job losses in recent months. Fairfax, the conglomerate that owns The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, announced cuts amounting to 25% of its metropolitan journalist teams (125 workers).

Fairfax staff, organised in the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA), responded with a week-long strike between in May. This restricted Fairfax’s ability to report on the federal budget.

Fairfax is faced with declining revenue from advertising and newspaper sales. The company hopes that the job cuts will save them $30 million annually. The job losses come only a year after Fairfax sacked 120 journalists for similar reasons.

The head of the MEAA, Paul Murphy, said: “None of the other parts of the Fairfax business are worth anything without the journalism and yet it is the journalism that Fairfax always cuts”.

In addition to Fairfax, the Australian division of News Corporation and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) have also announced job cuts. News Corporation axed an undisclosed number of journalists, including 45 from its publication the Courier Mail.

The organisation also sacked most of its permanent photographers and replaced them with freelancers. The shift towards freelance and casual employment is a major concern for journalists.

Unfortunately, as long as these media outlets are run on a for-profit basis, more job losses and casualisation can be expected. The bulk of Australia’s media is dominated by a handful of rich and powerful shareholders, including Gina Rinehart and the Murdoch family.

This undemocratic set up also undermines the idea of a ‘free press’. Rather than running media outlets to make private profit, socialists fight for a genuine free press that is under popular control.

The production of information should be in the hands of the majority. Only in that way will the truth be reported rather than rich people using the press to feed us a bunch of lies.

By Isobel Orford

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