Leader Newspapers, the Melbourne community newspaper group owned by News Corp Australia, has taken a business decision to close seven of its 33 titles.
The titles affected, the Melbourne Leader, the Berwick Leader, the Brimbank Leader, the Free Press Leader, the Hobsons Bay Leader, the Melton Leader and the Wynham Leader, will cease publication by July 1.
A spokesperson for News Corp Australia said the decision has been made to focus investment on the papers where the company had a solid readership and strong advertising market share across all categories.
“Unfortunately the papers to be closed operate in communities that have a number of competing media outlets, and publishing these papers isn’t viable in the long term,” she said.
“This is by no means a reflection on the quality of the papers we have been producing in these areas. These titles have done a great job of serving the communities in which they operate.”
In a statement to readers and advertisers, Leader said it had been a difficult decision.
“We thank our readers and advertisers in those communities for your support over many years. Leader is proud of the community connection that we have worked hard to achieve,” the statement said.
“Leader has been a strong advocate for local causes in those areas. We have reported on local news and events and played an active role in community life.
“Leader regrets that changing business conditions mean it is no longer commercially possible for us to continue in those seven communities.”
The final print publications in the affected areas will be delivered in the week of June 27.
The News Corp Australian spokesperson said the company would try to absorb as many jobs as possible from the closed newspapers.
“Regrettably some roles will be impacted and we are now consulting with individuals to determine the extent of the impact,” she said.
“Where possible we are keen to retain staff in the business and some people will be redeployed to other roles within the Leader group. However, it is possible that some roles will not be retained.”
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