40 Pagemasters staff hit by end of Fairfax deal

Pagemasters managing director Peter Atkinson says the company will look for alternate roles for staff affected by the non-renewal of its sub-editing contract with Fairfax Media.

Fairfax announced last week that it would be transitioning the sub-editing work currently done by AAP subsidiary Pagemasters to Fairfax Editorial Services in the company’s New Zealand office. The Pagemasters contract, a three-year agreement which ends this year, covers copy-editing for news, business, world and sport sections for The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and The Canberra Times.

Mr Atkinson told The Newspaper Works that around 40 full-time equivalent employees would be affected by the discontinuation of the company’s contract with Fairfax, but that he expected business would remain strong.

“About half are full-time and half part-time/casual employees,” he said of staff affected by the lapse of the contract. “Pagemasters will be trying to find alternative roles for as many of these staff as possible.

“Fairfax has asked us to continue supplying the service for at least three months and probably until the end of the year, so there’s some time for new opportunities to arise.”

In an email to staff last week, The Sydney Morning Herald editor-in-chief Darren Goodsir announced that Fairfax had agreed to give sub-editing duties for the three Australian metro mastheads to Fairfax New Zealand, after it was announced in April that the company would not renew its contract with Pagemasters.

Mr Goodsir said that he expected the move would be a smooth process and told staff that the company looked “forward to working with our colleagues in Fairfax Editorial Services – and appreciate your co-operation and support throughout the transition.”

In a statement to The Newspaper Works, a spokesperson for Fairfax said “primarily this was a commercial decision and we won’t discuss commercial arrangements”.

“It was also a decision which referenced strongly the need to maintain editorial quality, and on that front Fairfax Editorial Services has a proven track record.”

Mr Atkinson said that Pagemasters had made an effort over the last few years to diversify and build relationships beyond those with the major publishers, although it still had a strong relationship with News Corp and APN.

“We continue to pursue new business opportunities, both in traditional and new media, within and Australia and beyond – and are having some very exciting discussions,” he said.

“I’m very confident that Pagemasters will continue to thrive and that there remains a strong appetite for the cost-effective, flexible and innovative solutions we provide.”

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