Newspapers that break up their editorial departments and outsource journalistic work to money-saving information production factories will only hasten the demise of the traditional press in developed countries, warned the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today.
The IFJ was responding to plans by New Zealand’s biggest daily newspaper – The New Zealand Herald – to outsource editorial production in a move that will cut 30 jobs.
“This is a panic measure to save money, but in the end it is crazy economics because it will only further reduce the quality of journalism and accelerate circulation decline,” said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary.
The IFJ says that newspaper owners in western countries, many of them facing a crisis of falling sales as consumers increasingly turn to the Internet and other sources for their news, would be foolish to follow this lead.
“Newspapers will only survive if they invest in quality journalism and take advantage of the opportunities the Internet and new technologies provide,” said White. “Cutting jobs, breaking up the professional chain of journalism and moving editors away from the reporters’ room is no answer to circulation decline. This is the time to invest in professionalism, not erode the quality of news coverage.”
APN News & Media – half owned by Dublin-based Independent News & Media, which publishes 175 newspapers and magazines worldwide – has commissioned an outside contractor to do the editing and layout work for The New Zealand Herald along with several regional papers and weeklies. Unions fear similar strategies will be taken up across the group including Ireland, where Independent Newspapers dominates the media landscape.
The IFJ-affiliated Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union, whose members include New Zealand journalists, have condemned the move saying news stories should be handled by editors familiar with local issues.
"The company thinks readers won't notice the difference," said White. “But they are fooling themselves. This is a desperate measure that provides no long-term vision of quality journalism for a news industry in crisis.”
The IFJ and its European regional body, the European Federation of Journalists, are to further discuss actions to combat this trend and plan a day of action – Stand up for Journalism! – on November 5th to highlight the importance of investing in quality and professional journalism.
For more information contact the IFJ at 32 2 235 2207
The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 114 countries worldwide