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Fairfax Media to sack 125 journalists

Fairfax Media has announced that it will be cutting a quarter of its editorial staff at three of its newspapers and its online sites. This will amount to about 125 jobs in all.

The newspapers that will be affected are the Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and the Australian Financial Review. The website WAToday is the other entity that has been targeted.

Last year, the company cut about 80 editorial positions in what has become a regular exercise to try and reduce expenses. In 2014, 70 jobs were cut. Prior to that, in 2012, about 1900 jobs were cut in all divisions.

This year, the company has said it would be seeking to cut $30 million in expenses.

"While we will be looking across all parts of the newsroom, at the end of the redundancy programme we expect there will be significantly fewer editorial management, video, presentation and section writer roles," the company said in an internal note.

Despite the claimed financial issues at the company, in March, Fairfax chief executive Greg Hywood was paid $2.5 million as a bonus after Fairfax returned a profit for the first half of the 2017 financial yaer.

Hywood warned earlier on Wednesday of staff cuts in New Zealand after the New Zealand competition watchdog blocked its proposed merger with NZME.

In a statement, the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance said it was appalled at the decision.

"The decision indicates that, yet again, Fairfax is opting for savage cuts that will only weaken its business further rather than investing in its products and working to achieve smarter outcomes," the organisation, the main union for journalists, said.

MEAA chief executive Paul Murphy said: "None of the other parts of the Fairfax business are worth anything without the journalism and yet it is the journalism that Fairfax always cuts.

"This will only undermine and damage its mastheads further, alienating its audience and leaving the editorial staff remain have to work harder and harder to fill the gaps. This is a dumb decision."

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Sam Varghese

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A professional journalist with decades of experience, Sam for nine years used DOS and then Windows, which led him to start experimenting with GNU/Linux in 1998. Since then he has written widely about the use of both free and open source software, and the people behind the code. His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.