Australian newspapers cut 1,900

Australian publisher Fairfax Media Ltd. said Monday it will shed 1,900 jobs over three years and erect pay walls for two flagship newspapers as readers increasingly move online.

The company said it's giving itself the flexibility to ditch its print operations entirely at some point in the future if that's what consumers demand.

The job cuts at the Sydney-based media empire represent almost one fifth of its 10,000 staff, spokesman Brad Hatch said.

Fairfax said that its The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age broadsheet newspapers will become tabloids and their websites will introduce pay walls from early next year.

Fairfax owns more than 300 newspapers, 50 websites and 15 radio stations in Australia and New Zealand.

Australian staff were told in a memo that 300 jobs would be shed within three months in the cities of Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, Brisbane and Perth. Half of these jobs would be editorial.

But the company's New Zealand CEO said the changes won't affect Fairfax's 2,500 employees there. Nor were there any plans to introduce pay walls for New Zealand newspaper websites.

Australia's largest newspaper publisher after News Corp. also said it would close two printing plants in Sydney and Melbourne by June 2014.

Both sites have printing presses with significant surplus capacity which is no longer required, Fairfax said.

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