Fairfax editors depart as editorial cuts bite

 

THE THREE top editors at Australia’s Fairfax Media group resigned yesterday, sending gasps through the newsrooms of the country’s two oldest broadsheets, the Sydney Morning Herald and the Melbourne Age.

Herald editor Amanda Wilson and editor-in-chief and publisher Peter Fray, and the Age’s editor-in-chief, Paul Ramadge, all stepped down.

“If we were writing about any other company, we’d call it a bloodbath,” said Herald urban affairs editor Matthew Moore.

The resignations come after a week of changes, which include 1,900 job losses, converting the Herald and the Age to tabloid size and shutting the two main printing presses. Changes, including the erection of paywalls, reflect the papers’ falling revenue in print. Only 23 per cent of consumers read print versions, whereas 77 per cent access the Herald and the Age online.

Fray, described by insiders as an old-style editor with great vision and curiosity, confirmed he did not have another job lined up.

Wilson, the Herald’s first woman editor, said the newsroom was about to go through profound changes which will involve sharing across print, digital and mobile platforms, as well as condensing jobs across regions. “When I first saw the [restructure] plan, there was one glaring omission – the role of editor that I currently have.”

In Melbourne, staff at the Age were equally stunned by Ramadge’s departure. “I regret that I am leaving an organisation that has been my passion . . . a place of learning for 16 years,” he told staff.

Fairfax chief executive Greg Hywood praised the departing editors and assured staff the papers would would not be influenced editorially by the largest shareholder, mining magnate Gina Rinehart, who increased her stake in Fairfax Media to 18.7 per cent last week. She is thought to be demanding three seats on the board.

Some sources suggested the departures were influenced by the size of the job cuts in editorial. – (Guardian service)