Business, Economics and Jobs

Australia: Top Fairfax editors quit amid radical restructuring of newspaper publisher


Fairfax Media headquarters in Sydney.


Cameron Spencer

Three top editors at Australian media group Fairfax quit today, amid a radical restructuring of the 170-year-old publishing company that will see nearly 2,000 jobs axed and flagship broadsheet newspapers reduced to tabloid size.

Amanda Wilson, the first female editor of The Sydney Morning Herald, Peter Fray, the newspaper’s editor-in-chief, and Paul Ramadge, the editor of The Age in Melbourne, resigned, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Sydney Morning Herald journalist Matthew Moore told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that staff at the newspaper -- still reeling from last week's savage job cuts -- were “absolutely stunned” by the announcements.

“This is unprecedented in this company and I think people just felt like they were at the scene of an accident,” Moore was quoted as saying.

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The Brisbane Times reported that new editors of the Sydney Morning Herald had been appointed: Darren Goodsir would be the news director and Sean Aylmer would be the editor-in-chief of newspaper and its sister publication The Sun-Herald. Ramadge’s replacement has not yet been announced.

The high-level departures follow last week’s announcement that Fairfax will cut 1,900 jobs over the next three years, shrink its flagship broadsheet newspapers The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age to tabloid size and introduce subscription paywalls for its online content.

Amid the turmoil, Australian mining magnate Gina Rinehart has been increasing her control of the newspaper, radio and digital media group.

Rinehart, who is the world’s richest woman and Fairfax’s largest shareholder, owns 18.7 percent of the company’s shares and is believed to be seeking as many as three board seats and the right to intervene in editorial decisions. 

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But Rinehart, whose demands have so far been rejected by the company’s board, is now threatening to sell her shares if she doesn’t get her way, The Age said.