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Editors at Sydney Morning Herald, Age Newspapers Step Down

By Gavin Lower MELBOURNE--A week after revealing plans to cut 1,900 jobs in a restructuring, Australia's second-largest newspaper publisher Fairfax Media Ltd. (FXJ.AU) on Monday said that three senior editors from its leading mastheads will leave the company, the Sydney Morning Herald and the Age. Amanda Wilson, editor of the Sydney Morning Herald and the newspaper's editor-in-chief Peter Fray will leave, the company said. In addition, Paul Ramadge, the editor-in-chief of the Melbourne-based the Age, will also step down. "These are extremely challenging times for the media," said Mr. Ramadge in a statement from Fairfax. The departure of senior editors comes as Fairfax presses ahead with restructuring intended to save 235 million Australian dollars (US$237 million) annually by June 2015. The company recently gained a new major shareholder, mining billionaire Gina Rinehart, who has acquired a 19% stake. But Ms. Rinehart's interest has proved controversial and provoked criticism by senior figures in Australia's government. Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer Wayne Swan said last week that Ms. Rinehart's intentions for Fairfax and its newspapers have "very big implications for our democracy, I think we should all be very concerned at this turn of events," he said. Fairfax competes in Australia with News Ltd., the local unit of News Corp. (NWS). The company, publisher of the Australian and the Daily Telegraph newspapers, is also expected to announce job cuts within the next few weeks, said a person familiar with the plans. News Corp. also owns The Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones Newswires. Weekday circulation at the Sydney Morning Herald fell 14% to 180,960 in the first quarter, while at the Age, weekday circulation fell 13% to 165,061 over the same period. Fairfax made a net loss of A$390.9 million last year. Write to Gavin Lower at gavin.lower@wsj.com

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