The Illawarra Mercury has moved to new premises closer to the city after a decade at its Auburn Street Wollongong office.
The newspaper, which began in 1855 as a sixpenny print publication, has transitioned into the digital era with a website featuring multimedia content and a mobile phone app, while still producing a paper six days a week.
Fairfax group general manager for Illawarra Rod Tremayne, who during the last couple of months has been responsible for ensuring local staff were planned and organised for the change, told The Newspaper Works that the company had been planning the move for about nine months and that it offered several key benefits.
“We were at the end of lease, so we were looking at the most appropriate premises and like all newspaper businesses, as we remodelled our size to suit the industry at the moment; we didn’t need as much space,” he said.
“In the old building we were on two storeys, so we had editorial on one floor and we had our sales and admin staff on another. So there was a real disconnect in terms of the flow of the business during the day and we wanted to bring them all together.”
The Illawarra Mercury employs 50 editorial staff and 90 staff overall, all of whom have moved to the new site. Everything was transported to and made operationally ready in 10 hours.
The new office is on the fourth level of the ahm building on Market Street, Wollongong, and offers better in-house collaboration and a chance for the newspaper to utilise the benefits of a new newsroom layout.
“It’s given us the opportunity to redesign the look of our newsroom, so we’ve now got big TV monitors that are showing not only some of the digital news services but also are being set up to show live web statistics,” Mr Tremayne said.
“It’s also given us the opportunity to set up a good photographic studio so that we can shoot better video for our digital offerings.”
Mr Tremayne said that the lease on the new premises offered commercial incentives in addition to the practical benefits it provides in its layout and its proximity to Wollongong city.
“I’d say we’re getting a significant cost benefit out of it and that’s important as we resize our businesses to fit the print revenue trends out there,” he said.
During the move, the newspaper placed its large photographic collection, including 25 four-drawer filing cabinets filled with photos and 200 boxes of negatives, under the guardianship of Wollongong City Library.
Mr Tremayne said that this will allow the material to be publicly available and preserved as a historic record for the community.
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