Editor-in-Chief of The Age, Andrew Holden, has resigned after three-and-a-half years in the job.
Holden’s departure came as the Fairfax group announced consultation on a new editorial structure for The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald on Wednesday.
In a statement, Fairfax Editorial Director Sean Aylmer said: “We will be consulting across the newsroom extensively over the next 10 days before finalising the model.”
Mr Aylmer said the new model for the group would be similar to the “recently announced newsroom structures of The Wall Street Journal and Daily Telegraph.”
The news comes just days after Britain’s Independent announced the end of their print editions, with the publication soon to move to online publishing only.
The proposed changes “will simplify newsroom workflows and allows reporters and editors more autonomy to better manage their workloads and create content that meets the 24/7 demands of our audiences,” Mr Aylmer said.
Mr Holden will be replaced in the interim by Mark Forbes who will be Acting Editor in Chief.
Mr Forbes has previously served as Sunday Age editor and has held a range of senior news posts with the company.
“The new structure will deliver greater focus on content creation and distribution roles … We believe this will strengthen our audience first approach,” Mr Aylmer said.
“To support the new structure, a number of new roles will be created and some roles altered.”
The restructure is said to involve bringing sub-editorial positions back to Australia from New Zealand, where they were moved from 2012.
Fairfax retrenched many of its own sub-editors in recent years, at first outsourcing the work to editorial contracting group Pagemasters.
In 2015, Pagemasters was wound down as the sub-editing function was moved to New Zealand.
But the move has been criticised as a number of editing mistakes began to appear in the papers, while reporting staff were said to be dissatisfied with the New Zealand sub-editors’ lack of local knowledge.
The New Daily understands that over 70 New Zealand-based sub-editing staff were told to be prepared to be laid off in recent days and that many sub-editing positions will be returned to Pagemasters in Australia and with some jobs maintained at Pagemasters in New Zealand.
While Mr Forbes will act in the Editor in chief role, Sydney Morning Herald Editor in Chief Darren Goodsir is believed to be likely to take up the top role at both publications.
News of the shakeup follows bad news on both digital and print subscriptions for the The Age. In the December quarter of 2015, The Age digital subscriptions fell 2,280 subscribers compared with the same time last year, while quarter-on-quarter the masthead lost 2,513 subscribers.
The Age also posted weak print sales, down 8.7 per cent from 106,843 in the December quarter 2014 to 97,503 in the December quarter 2015.