Will you still be able to trust Choice?
EXCLUSIVE: CONSUMER group Choice has denied sacking most of its journalists amid concerns a major revamp will leave it unable to unearth dodginess.
Until recently Choice had as many as nine journalists, but News Corp Australia has been told only four have survived the cull.
Internally, the need for change has been sold around a message that the existing team lacked focus, with management keen to see more work done on money matters, health cover and travel - not Choice's traditional strengths.
"The direction of the organisation is changing. Will they still be able to call out a business when it does something wrong," a source who asked not to be named said.
The axings come just weeks after Choice's high-profile spokesman Tom Godfrey left as it restructured the main media role to be a supporting function to the watchdog's "subject matter experts".
Choice CEO Alan Kirkland denied any journalist had lost their job.
He said the changes would create a "new, dedicated investigative journalism function", despite at least five staff already having the title "investigative journalist".
He also said the new structure would seek to "replicate the impact we've made in the last year with unique investigations like our work on the Takata airbag recall.
"This change does not involve Choice doing less work for consumers, but it does mean working in different ways," Mr Kirkland said.
"No staff have lost their jobs. Choice is still consulting with staff on the potential changes and will be unable to comment on any specifics until this is completed."
Choice's financial report, lodged last week with the corporate regulator and seen by News Corp, shows its operating loss doubled in 2017-18 to $2 million as it invested in automated tools to help people compare insurance and energy deals.
The financial report disclosed costs rose 9.2 per cent in 2017-18 - twice the pace at which revenue increased.
That being said, Choice has more than $10 million in cash reserves.