Hundreds of reporters, photographers and videographers are set to lose their jobs as Australia’s national news wire service Australian Associated Press (AAP) announced that it will close down, citing financial pressures and competition with free online content.
The company’s Newswire service — which has more than 180 staff spread across Australia, New Zealand, Los Angeles and London — will end on June 26. It’s Pagemasters production service will cease on Aug. 31.
The company’s news wires are widely used by Australian media, including by News Corp, Nine, Seven West Media and Guardian Australia.
The company’s press release distribution service, Medianet, and its media research arm, Mediaverse, will be put up for sale.
AAP CEO Bruce Davidson informed employees about the decision at a Tuesday afternoon meeting in the company’s Sydney office, which simultaneously livestreamed on its internal company network.
“It is tragic that [AAP] will end in 2020,” Davidson told the room.
He said the company’s major shareholders, News Corp Australia and Nine Entertainment Co., had decided to shut the news agency late last year. Speculation about the company’s future was reported by Nine earlier this week.
In true AAP fashion, a wire was put out simultaneously with details about the news agency’s closure.
The Media Entertainment & Arts Alliance (MEAA) lashed out at the decision, calling it a “gross abandonment of responsibility by its shareholders” in a statement.
MEAA president Marcus Strom tweeted that AAP’s closure will “weaken the public square”.
AFP news editor Andrew Beatty wrote that the decision will affect their news wire service.
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Labor opposition leader Anthony Albanese tweeted that it is “a sad day for journalism in Australia”.
AAP’s own staff are reeling from the decision, too. The company’s editor-in-chief Tony Gillies tweeted that it is “the saddest day”.
One staff member commented on the internal livestream “living in such uncertainty since 2017 is fairly distressing, especially for all remote workers like myself who cannot be there right now to discuss”.
Another wrote: “Yeah, talk about out of the blue.”
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