Adrift News' papers feel exposed

WITH the announcement that News Corp will be split in two, employees at the company's many print papers are facing a new reality: they are now in the newspaper business.

For years, the success of News Corp's lucrative cable and entertainment assets formed a buffer between its print properties and the downturn in the newspaper industry. Now, many journalists at those newspapers worry about what will happen as they become part of a much smaller company, grouped with HarperCollins and News Corp's education assets.

Even before the split was announced last week, News Corp was acting to streamline the newspapers and make them more profitable. Its Australian papers, which, according to the company's latest earnings report, have had declining advertising revenue, could cut nearly 10 per cent of their staff.

One reporter at The Australian, who insisted on anonymity because the subject was delicate internally, said the split ''comes at an already traumatic time here, with the whole Australian business being restructured and hundreds and hundreds of jobs being cut''.

The reporter said: ''People fear the loss of the security that has come from being underpinned by a vast and profitable entertainment empire.''