R.I.P. Newscore: News Corp.’s Weird News Wire Goes Dark, Sheds Staff

As News Corp. shores up its print and television properties leading up to the company’s highly publicized split, its scrappy and beloved internal newswire Newscore has quietly gone dark, with at least 20 positions eliminated—and possibly more than twice that if cuts hit bureaus in London and Sydney.

Launched in 2009, Newscore collected and redistributed the news stories from News Corp.’s reporters in the U.S., U.K. and Australia, while racing rivals AP and Reuters on breaking news. Newscore CEO John Moody, a former Fox News executive, was reportedly inspired by a moment of synergy between Fox News and The Australian in covering Heath Ledger’s death.

Designed to save costs on outside wire subscriptions and minimize duplicate reporting, Newscore content was at one time poised to be sold to outside news organizations, although one News Corp. insider said those talks fell through when the company’s public image suffered amid allegations of phone hacking at News of the World.

For News Corp. employees, Newscore was cherished as a wackier alternative to other wires, curating a web-friendly—and classically Murdoch—mix of the buzzy weird news, crime and animal stories well-suited to the company’s tabloid elements.

The layoffs are part of a wave of cost-cutting measures occurring as the media giant prepares to spin off its newspaper operations (like The Wall Street Journal and the New York Post) into a separate company, which will no longer be insulated by the success of properties like Fox News and BSkyB.

Last month, Dow Jones shut down the print version of SmartMoney magazine, eliminating 25 positions, and The New York Times reported that News Corp.’s Australian business was also being restructured, cutting hundreds of jobs.

One insider said that COO Chase Carey—who became Mr. Murdoch’s deputy as the News International scandal gutted News Corp’s executive ranks—had gone through the budget identifying money losers like SmartMoney and Newscore. A person with knowledge of the situation said the final call was made by Fox News CEO Roger Ailes, who decided that Fox News would “absorb” Newscore, bringing home Mr. Moody, who will now be an executive vice president and executive editor of FoxNews.com. In a statement to The Hollywood Reporter last month, Mr. Ailes said that Newscore would “strengthen [their] overall newsgathering capabilities.”

His remarks confused reporters and editors, whom insiders say were unceremoniously laid off. In an HR meeting, reporters were told that the “Newscore function is going to be absorbed, but not the staff,” which they understood as a reference to its proprietary aggregation software. Laid off employees were given the opportunity to interview for positions at Fox News and handful of others were enlisted short-term to write evergreen service features for FoxNews.com after the wire went dark June 29. Some have already been placed in new positions within the company.

In addition, there are internal rumors that The Daily has been put “on watch.” According to a source the status of the groundbreaking iPad tabloid—which loses $30 million a year—will be reassessed after the November 6 election.

The shutdown of Newscore predated News Corp.’s decision to split, but some insiders speculated that Newscore’s function would be diminished if it weren’t relaying news stories from television news properties to print ones.

In a publicity blitz following the announcement of the split—a move long recommended by Wall Street analysts and unanimously approved by News Corp.’s board of directors—Rupert Murdoch said the company will pursue more digital subscription-driven models, (a la the Times of London) and will no longer spill buckets of red ink. (Watch out, New York Post!) Mr. Murdoch will remain chairman of the to-be-named company and appoint a separate CEO.