The Canberra Times will move to a compact print format and two community newspapers will close as part Fairfax Media’s continued transformation of its Australian Community Media division.
The closures include the Cooma-Monaro Express, a bi-weekly newspaper that has served the region for more than 136 years. The paper’s website also will close.
All pages of the weekday, Saturday and Sunday Canberra Times will move to the compact format in mid-2016, adopting the same size as The Age, Sydney Morning Herald and The Australian Financial Review.
The editorial and sales teams of The Canberra Times will also be restructured and will involve 12 voluntary redundancies, although Fairfax said its federal parliamentary bureau will not be affected.
It follows Fairfax Media’s recent plans to undertake an editorial restructure of its Sydney and Melbourne newsrooms, and announcement it would cut 120 editorial jobs.
In an interview with SkyNews this afternoon, Fairfax chief executive Greg Hywood spoke about the changes announced today, other changes within Fairfax and touched on his recent article defending the editorial cuts.
“What we are doing is really delivering on a strategy and a plan that has been in place for a long time. We know that the world is changing and our job in terms of leading this company is to make sure we look to that horizon and make sure we’re prepared for it,” he said.
The changes at The Canberra Times are part of ACM’s ongoing transformation of its community publishing business, which has involved the refreshing and revisitation of 100 mastheads since 2014.
ACM director John Angilley said the division is committed to providing local coverage for Canberra readers.
“ … By modernising our newsrooms and better focusing our resources we are strengthening The Canberra Times, which this year celebrates its 90th year delivering quality local journalism to the local community,” he said.
In a proposal separate to The Canberra Times announcements, staff from ACM’s publishing operations in Goulburn, Bowral, Queanbeyan, Yass, Crookwell and Braidwood were told of a proposal to restructure their respective newspapers and websites.
It will involve adopting Fairfax Media’s new digital-first publishing system NewsNow, which has been rolled out across ACM since 2014.
Under the plan, the NSW papers the Cooma-Monaro Express and the Summit Sun in Jindabyne will no longer be published in print or online.
The Queanbeyan Age will also merge with the Queanbeyan edition of The Chronicle and will be re-launched as a free weekly newspaper. Its shopfront office will be closed and the paper will be produced out of The Canberra Times.
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