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Courier-Mail will cease printing in Brisbane as Murarrie site to be sold

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The Courier-Mail will no longer be printed in Brisbane and jobs are set to go as the News Corp shifts operations to the Sunshine Coast.

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The move comes amid a transition to digital-only editions of the regional and community newspapers, according to the executive general manager of production, logistics and property, Marcus Hooke.

“Unfortunately there will be job losses, but the vast bulk of our regional and community portfolio is now digital-only,” Mr Hooke said in a statement.

“We’ve had to consolidate operations due to the excess production capacity.”

The press at Murarrie, in Brisbane’s east, has been operating since 1995.

It will be phrased out by April 2021, with operations moved to a site at Yandina, which has newer presses with the heat-set printing capability used for magazines, catalogues and inserts.

“Yandina will print five dedicated editions of The Courier-Mail for audiences in Central Queensland, Wide Bay, and the Sunshine Coast, as well as its Queensland country and Brisbane metropolitan editions,” News Corp said in a statement.

“In addition it will publish the Queensland, Coffs Harbour, Grafton and Lismore editions of The Daily Telegraph, as well as The Australian and The Sunday Mail.”

‘Not cheap to keep’

Former Courier-Mail editor Michael Crutcher said the decision was not surprising, because digital distribution is more affordable for news organisations.

“It’s not cheap to keep printing presses,” Crutcher told ABC Radio Brisbane.

“You need to, oftentimes, get people out from Europe to repair and maintain things.”

Media analyst and Moonlighting Media Consultancy partner Ian Warner said the writing was on the wall for the future of print media.

“It would appear to me that the value of the land that the Murarrie plant sits on is worth more than what the value of the sales of newspapers are,” Warner said.

“I don’t believe there is enough advertising to sustain a digital-only model — that’s why I think they much prefer to keep the printed part there.”

Jobs losses and a dying trade

News Corp would not comment on how many jobs will go, or what was planned for the Murarrie site.

Hooke said the wellbeing of employees remained the number one priority.

“I’d like to pay tribute to all the staff at Murarrie and Yandina whose unfailing professionalism and dedication to getting the paper out has never wavered,” Hooke said.

“We’ll continue working closely with affected employees and their representatives, as we have done at every stage of this process.”

Crutcher said he had “enormous admiration” for those working the presses

“These guys were extremely skilled, these were trades, and often generational trades in families,” he said.

“These people at the pressers were so good at what they did.”

Mr Warner compared the job loses to those seen when Australia stopped manufacturing cars.

“It’s sad that people are losing jobs,” Warner said.

“Unfortunately that’s the price of progress.”

He said if people had learned one thing in the past six months, it was that they had to adapt.

– ABC / Edwina Seselja

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