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MediaCorp outsources sub-editing of TODAY newspaper’s non-local news to Australian firm

TODAY newspaperSingapore’s second-highest circulating newspaper has outsourced a chunk of its sub-editing function to an editorial solutions firm overseas.

MediaCorp’s TODAY newspaper has appointed Pagemasters, an Australian Associated Press-owned copy editing firm, to process the rear sections of the paper, the role of the sub-editor being to check and edit editorial copy after it is written by journalists. Local news continues to be sub-edited by an in-house subbing team in Singapore.

This is the first time TODAY’s pages have been sub-edited overseas, Mumbrella understands.

MediaCorp told Mumbrella that it does not comment on commercial contracts with suppliers, but said that the company is not shedding jobs from its inhouse sub-editing team and is actively looking to recruit more production staff.

Pagesmasters was brought in by MediaCorp in August, and their team is working on TODAY newspaper pages out of Vietnam, according to a source familiar with the matter.

The news emerges six months after MediaCorp laid off a number of staff as part of a company-wide strategic rethink to move the company from a platform-based to a more customer-centric structure more suitable for the digital era.

Pagemasters describes itself as a centralised “sub hub” that handles newspaper production for newspapers in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the UK. MediaCorp is not yet listed among the firm’s clients on its website.

Pagemasters is a familiar name in media circles in Australia. The firm was hired by Fairfax and later News Corp, the country’s two largest newspaper publishers, to sub-edit the pages of many of its papers during a tumultuous period for Australia’s print industry.

Hundreds of subs jobs have been lost from Australian newsrooms in recent years as the newspaper advertising market has contracted. There were protests from the journalists’ union that predicted a decline in quality as a result of outsourcing editorial services.

Others suggested that outsourcing editorial services to people without knowledge of the local context or nuance risks exposing a newspaper to mistakes.

The head of Pagemasters, Bruce Davidson, has hit out at critics since, asking them to prove a drop in standards since his firm began subbing pages for Fairfax broadsheets The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald in 2008.

He told the Australian newspaper: “I would challenge you or anyone else to tell me which parts of the paper are edited by Pagemasters sub-editors and which parts are edited by (inhouse) sub-editors. On a business level we have a financial imperative to ensure we get things right and do it well and we engender that culture and expectation in the workplace.”

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