News & Insights


It's a wrap - Honner's quarterly media roundup (Q418)by Rebecca Thurlow

What’s news?

Nine, Fairfax merger births redundancies

Fairfax’s merger with Nine was officially completed, creating Australia’s biggest domestic  media company.

Nine revealed plans to said it plans to make more than 90 employees redundant as it pursues efficiencies after the merger. The first editorial staff to go were employees at websites formerly owned by Fairfax, including Business Insider, technology site Gizmodo, entertainment and fashion site PopSugar and gaming site Kotaku.

As former Fairfax CEO Greg Hywood threw himself a lavish farewell, Nine raised its target cost savings from the deal by $4 million to $65 million.

International layoffs continue

The layoffs continued internationally with BuzzFeed announcing it will cut its reduced its workforce by 15%, or about 250 positions.

The announcement came on the the heels of news that Verizon Media Group (formerly Oath) would lay off roughly 800 workers.
Google, Facebook face crackdown

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission release its draft report from the digital platforms inquiry which included 11 recommendations aimed at reducing the market power of Google and Facebook.
The tech giants hit back at the ACCC’s proposals for an independent body to review the algorithms used by online media platforms, saying there’s little evidence the measure would lead to higher quality search results or promote journalism.
In overseas developments, the UK’s data protection watchdog fined Facebook 500,000 pounds for its role in the Cambridge Analytica scandal and Britain’s competition regulator has announced its own probe into the digital advertising market.

Controversies continue for digital giants

Meanwhile Facebook is facing a new round of controversy amid claims it is using sensitive data from third party apps, and Twitter said it’s planning to remove the ability to “like” Tweets in order to improve the quality of debate.
Locally, the Australian Electoral Commission raised concerns with Facebook over sponsored political ads. According to the ABC, Australians interested in Donald Trump were targeted with ads attacking The Greens ands Get Up!

Ita Buttrose reportedly poised to chair ABC

The Sydney Morning Herald reports Ita Buttrose is poised to become the next chair of the ABC, ending a tumultuous search for the public broadcaster’s next leader following the acrimonious departure of Justin Milne and managing director Michelle Guthrie nearly six months ago.

Meanwhile, Guthrie has began legal action against the public broadcaster, and the Plain English Foundation has found Milne’s euphemism for firing staff to be 2018’s worst phrase.

Ita Buttrose, seen here signing copies of her autobiography A Passionate Life in 2012, is tipped to become the next ABC chair 

Inquiry clears SBS, ABC

An independent review commissioned by the government rejected claims that ABC and SBS enjoy an unfair competitive advantage over their commercial rivals. The review - agreed in a deal between the Turnbull government and One Nation - found the public broadcasters competed fairly in the marketplace and abided by their charters.

Labor promised to never sell the ABC as part of its policy platform at the party’s national conference. The pledge came just months after the Liberal federal council voted to privatise the broadcaster, forcing then-prime minister Malcolm Turnbull to promise the ABC will never be sold.

Defamation laws under review

New South Wales kicked off a review of the country’s outdated defamation laws.

The review will examine whether the laws are meeting their policy objectives, including ensuring unreasonable limits are not placed on "the publication and discussion of matters of public interest".
LinkedIn comes late to video streaming party

LinkedIn has launched its own video streaming service LinkedIn Live, which will work similarly to live streaming on Facebook, Twitter and Amazon.

LinkedIn is currently trialling the feature in beta in the US, on an invite-only basis. While it is not yet known when LinkedIn Live will be rolled out globally, the social platform will post a contact form for others who want to get in on the action in the coming weeks.

Insights & opinion

Where have all the journos gone? Journalists made redundant in the digital revolution have had no trouble finding work, although it hasn’t always been in journalism, according to the Beat Report.

Australia’s defamation laws are ripe for an overhaul, says David Rolph at The Sydney Morning Herald.
Apple’s radical new humans-over-machines approach is antithetical to Silicon Valley’s ethos, says Jack Nicas at The New York Times.

Trump’s attacks on the news media are working, says Jim Rutenberg at The New York Times.
Quotable quotes

“I didn’t make a cracker from sacking journalists because the publishing business was not growing until very recently.” - Former Fairfax CEO Greg Hywood told the AFR’s Max Mason in an exit interview.

 “Good luck getting the people at the call centre to recognise a tip when someone calls in,” - one frustrated hack after The Age editor Alex Lavelle told staff the news desk would no longer take calls from the public and all queries and tips would now be handled by a “contact centre”.

“We must hold internet companies -- no matter how big -- responsible for upholding the law and protecting the information of smartphone users,” - New York Governor Andrew Cuomo as he called on state agencies and federal regulators to investigate Facebook Inc. after a report the company had access to sensitive information on the users of some apps.

“For consumers there are issues with a lack of transparency and meaningful options in terms of how, and how much, data is collected about them.” – ACCC Chairman Rod Sims in a speech urging submissions to the digital platforms review.
Movers & Shakers

Caitlin Fitzsimmons, has taken up the position of associate editor at The Sun Herald.  Caitlin was previously editor of the Money section at the Sydney Morning Herald.

The Australian’s Richard Ferguson is moving to Canberra to cover federal politics for the newspaper.

Matt Cranston has also moved to Canberra as economics correspondent for the Australian Financial Review.

Your Money hired Kylie Purcell as senior digital journalist. Purcell was formerly senior content producer at Switzer Group. The program has also hired Camille Bianchi, formerly a producer at CNBC.

Producer Will Koulouris has joined CNBC from Your Money.

Deb Knight and Tom Steinfort have joined Channel Nine’s Today program, following the departure of Karl Stefanovic and Sylvia Jeffreys.

Jason Spits has moved to Self-Managed Super magazine from Risk Info where he was a senior journalist.

Zoe Samios, senior reporter at Mumbrella, is moving to The Australian’s media section.

In a series of moves at Mumbrella, head of event content Damian Francis has been promoted to the expanded role of head of paid content.  Joining Francis’s team will be Mumbrella senior reporter Abigail Dawson, who has been promoted into the newly-created role of senior content journalist, where she will focus on event curation.

Hannah Blackiston, currently deputy editor of real estate title Elite Agent,  will be joining Mumbrella as senior media reporter in March, succeeding Samios. Also joining the news team at Mumbrella are journalists Brittney Rigby and Zoe Wilkinson.
Tim Stewart, wealth editor at Momentum Media, has moved to Australian Ethical as content editor.

Investor Daily reporter Jessica Yun has moved to the role of finance news producer at Yahoo Finance
Nest Egg journalist Lucy Dean has also moved to Yahoo Finance.

Journalist Stephanie Aikins has moved to Nest Egg from Hip Media where she was in an associate editor role.
Pro Print reporter Sarah Simpkins has moved to Momentum Media, reporting across wealth titles ifa and Investor Daily.

Australian Banking & Finance senior journalist Elizabeth Fry has moved to Investment Magazine.

Madison Utley has replaced Rebecca Pike as Australia news editor at Australian Broker.  

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