LEAKS POINT TO MUCH LARGER JOB LOSSES AT HERALD AND NZME
By Richard Harman (author)
The NZME media group which includes Newstalk ZB and the NZ Herald is thought to be looking for over 100 redundancies as it restructures.
It has so far publicly refused to confirm any numbers but details of the plan leaked to POLITIK indicate that the company may be looking to terminate at least 150 staff.
That would put a huge hole in New Zealand’s largest media company and has the potential to impact on its highly regarded journalism.
The numbers being talked about would make this the biggest media mass redundancy New Zealand has seen.
It is however not clear whether the move will impact on its Press Gallery team.
The redundancies will include journalists but will extend to other staff within the company.
All staff are believed to have been sent a letter inviting them to reapply for jobs under a new structure which will bring together the radio and print arms of the company.
It appears that only Herald journalists have been asked to reapply; those at Newstalk ZB have not.
But the move apparently also embraces staff from sales, finance and the company’s regional papers.
POLITIK understands the whole process is designed to save a massive amount of money within the company.
NBR has suggested NZME may be looking for $18 million in savings.
The move comes as the company plans a move to a new building in Victoria Street.
This will end the NZ Herald’s century long occupation of its Wyndham Street site.
It is understood the new Victoria Street building was always designed with lower staff numbers in mind.
Even so, POLITIK understands staff will not have specific desks but instead will be required to “hot desk”.
One journalist who asked where they could keep files was told in future hard copy files would be located in the company library in Ellerslie and could be delivered to Victoria Street.
There are also suggestions that though the company is looking to make big savings, there has been a multi-million dollar blowout on the cost of executives and consultants.
Meanwhile Herald staff have been making their feelings known.
Last Friday’s astrological column contained frequent references to Mercury being “retrograde”.
Astrologers believe that when a planet is in retrograde it effectively ceases to function and since Mercurcy governs communication and even contracts it was clearly a relevant force for the paper’s Astrologer to focus on.
Thus last Friday’s advice to Taurans was to “avoid signing contracts and buying big-ticket items till October 9. Plus get any health problems checked as soon as possible.”
And perhaps reflecting an understandable air of nervousness within the company, people born under Leo are advised to double check all posts, tweets and emails “before you press send. It will be every easy to send the wrong message to the wrong person.”
And Scorpians are advised to be flexible as “others won’t behave in rational ways.”
Former Herald Editor in Chief and now Senior Lecturer at the University of Auckland, Gavin Ellis told Radio New Zealand yesterday that the Herald could simply not afford to lose any staff at all.
Mr Ellis said he was not critical of the decision to merge the newsrooms and to have content spread across the radio, web and print platforms.
What was worrying him was that the merger was becoming an excuse to cut staff.
“The Herald cannot afford in any way to diminish its intellectual quotient or its institutional knowledge.”
He said staff at the paper were talking about the changes being a “bloodbath”.
In June Fairfax announced that 159 roles editorial would go but 174 new editorial positions would be created. Other roles were retained and “rescoped”.
The company is currently advertising for a Political Reporter for its Press Gallery office.