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Stuff cuts 24 jobs as it closes community, rural titles

Wednesday 16th May 2018

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Media group Stuff will cut 24 jobs when it closes 15 community and rural titles in its shift to digital, after failing to find buyers for the publications.

In February, Australian parent Fairfax Media announced Stuff would close 35 percent of its New Zealand print titles this year as the Australian group pursues a digital strategy for the kiwi unit. As of April 22, half of Stuff's revenue came from its top five mastheads, which includes The Dominion Post, The Press and the Sunday Star-Times, while non-print revenue accounted for 17 percent, from 5 percent just four years ago.

Stuff confirmed today that it will close South Island community titles the South Canterbury Herald; Waitaki Herald; Selwyn and Ashburton Outlook; Invercargill Eye; Queenstown Mirror; and NewsLink in Gore. It will also cut motoring advertising publication Auto Xtra, lifestyle magazines Admire Nelson and Admire Marlborough; and its group of NZ Farmer publications, which it gave away for free. Those include NZ Farmer; NZ Dairy Farmer; Waikato Farmer; Central District Farmer; Canterbury Farmer; and the Otago Southland Farmer.

Closing the rural titles means nine editorial staff and six commercial staff will lose their jobs, while Stuff will maintain three editorial staff to provide online content which will also be used in its major newspapers' farming sections. The closure of the community titles means five editorial and four sales staff will lose their jobs, while Stuff will keep two editorial staff in Queenstown.

"The continuation of the NZ Farmer digital section means we can still provide a daily news and advertising platform for the many rural Kiwis that will continue to look to Stuff for their farming news," said chief executive Sinead Boucher. "It will also allow us to build on both our audience and digital strategy."

Stuff has sold Avenues to Twenty Seven Publishers, who will continue to publish Avenues as a monthly title, distributed via The Press, it said. It is still trying to sell the Clutha Leader and the Kaikoura Star, and if it does not, it has previously said the publications will be closed by the end of the year.

The company attempted to merge with New Zealand Herald owner NZME, but was blocked by the Commerce Commission over fears the resulting public interest loss of media diversity outweighed the economic benefits of the deal.

That decision was upheld by the High Court, although the media companies have since sought leave to contest that decision in the Court of Appeal. In March, the two said they will renegotiate the terms of their merger if they successfully appeal the High Court's rejection of their deal.

(BusinessDesk)

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