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Fairfax staff strike for 'future of journalis -

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Fairfax staff strike for 'future of journalism'

The World Today - Friday, 29 August , 2008 12:30:00

Reporter: Michael Edwards

ELEANOR HALL: Fairfax journalists say the mass walk-out of staff from one of the country's largest
media companies is not just about jobs but the future of Australian journalism.

Fairfax journalists across the country have walked off the job until Monday in protest against the
company's plan to sack 550 staff.

The company says it will get its papers to the newsstands but journalists say the long-term future
of the publications is bleak if Fairfax does go ahead with the cuts.

Michael Edwards has our report.

MICHAEL EDWARDS: It was an angry scene outside the Sydney Morning Herald's headquarters this
morning. Striking Fairfax journalists were told of another big-name casualty in their fight against
the latest round of job cuts announced by the company this week - prominent broadcaster and Herald
columnist - Mike Carlton.

STRIKING JOURNALIST: Mike announced on air this morning that he wasn't filing his column for the
Sydney Morning Herald tomorrow because we are on strike.

(Applause)

The minute he got off air he took a call from Phil McLean, one of the senior executives of this
company who asked him where is your column. Mike said the journalists are on strike I'm not filing
it. And he was told we don't want another one of your columns ever again.

(Crowd booing)

MICHAEL EDWARDS: Fairfax journalists across Australia are on strike until Monday in protest at the
company's plans to cut 550 jobs from its operations in Australia and New Zealand.

Sydney Morning Herald journalist, Ruth Pollard, says the job losses will erode journalistic
quality.

RUTH POLLARD: The Sydney Morning Herald and the other newspapers that Fairfax covers are part of
people's everyday life. People rely on us to tell them what is happening in their community. To
tell them what is happening in business and government.

We are not going to have the opportunity to do that if they cut a third of the staff.

MICHAEL EDWARDS: 390 jobs will be lost from Fairfax's Australian operations. The Media,
Entertainment and Arts Alliance says 130 of these are expected to be in the newsrooms of The Age
and the Sydney Morning Herald.

But Ruth Pollard says Fairfax management has kept most the details from staff.

RUTH POLLARD: Well that is one of the most distressing things about what the company has done this
week. They have sent an email out to us saying they are going to do these catastrophic cuts to the
editorial staff and yet they haven't even told us where those cuts are going to come from. All they
have given us is vague numbers.

It is obviously really distressing to the staff to not know what is going to happen with the future
of this company.

MICHAEL EDWARDS: Senior Sydney Morning Herald journalist - Matthew Moore - says Fairfax management
has left journalists with no option but to strike.

MATTHEW MOORE: No-one likes taking strike action. We like producing newspaper; we like doing decent
journalism. But really there is no other way you can bring this to the attention of the community.

MICHAEL EDWARDS: Fairfax management has put together a special production team to ensure its
newspapers are published over the weekend and on Monday.

The company has also informed the journalists' union that it's withdrawn its sponsorship of the
Walkley Awards - journalism's highest honours.

The federal secretary of the MEAA - Chris Warren - says Fairfax's actions are against the company's
long-term best interests.

CHRIS WARREN: A thoughtless decision was announced early this week by this corporation. To slash
550 jobs is a short-term cost fix that is going to help them get through financially from quarter
to quarter but it is actually not going to deal with the real challenge that newspapers face.

MICHAEL EDWARDS: Chris Warren says newspapers face a tough future because of emerging media forums
such as the internet. He says cutting jobs won't help.

CHRIS WARREN: Those newspapers that are going to survive are those that are investing in
journalism.

ELEANOR HALL: That is Chris Warren from the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance ending Michael
Edwards' report.