Fairfax Media New Zealand has hired a quarter of the 40 sub-editors it wants to produce two regional Australian newspapers in Wellington.
“We’re looking for up to 40 staff and we’ve got about a quarter of those already hired,” Fairfax Media New Zealand executive editor Paul Thompson told AAP.
He hopes an international recruitment plan due to get under way will attract good candidates, including expat New Zealanders looking to return as well as Australians.
“It’s an opportunity to get some really good people and I’m delighted with the quality of the people we’ve got.
“We would really welcome applications from top subs in Australia,” he said on Tuesday.
The plan to move design, layout and copy sub-editing of the Illawarra Mercury, Newcastle Herald and their community papers to New Zealand has created outrage and triggered industrial action in Australia where 66 jobs at those papers are being lost.
Critics say it is a cost-cutting exercise and question the wisdom of producing newspapers so far from the communities they are based in.
“We think given the state of the newspaper industry, and the fact that newspaper production jobs in particular have been impacted by layoffs around the world, that it’s a good news story for us to be able to build a team to do this job in Wellington,” Mr Thompson said.
The work is expected to transfer to Wellington progressively during the next three to four months.
Members of the new team, who are mostly New Zealanders, are already working in the Dominion Post newspaper building “learning about the two titles”.
Some staff will work through to 2am (NZ time) to produce the Australian newspapers but there will be early, late and day shifts.
“We’re ready to go now actually but the Australian side aren’t. I would say we would be doing some of the early pages within a month,” Mr Thompson said.
He said the company is pleased with the response from the labour market.
“Judging by the CVs we’ve got and the candidates we’ve got and the people we’ve already hired there is a good pool of talent there.”