Fairfax: Nik Howe didn’t quit. We fired him

Nik HoweNik Howe, the editor of Sport & Style did not quit, but was fired, Fairfax has told Mumbrella.  

After Mumbrella earlier today revealed that Howe was launching full time into branded content agency Articulate, Lisa Hudson, Fairfax Magazine’s chief executive and publisher, told Mumbrella: ‘I’d like to go on the record. He did not quit. He was fired for misconduct. He was dismissed.”  

After Mumbrella put the claim to Howe, he conceded: “That’s interesting. As far as I’m concerned, we parted company on reasonable terms.”

But he added: “I think they were unhappy with the fact that the agency was going on in the background.”

Although Fairfax declined to comment on the specifics of Howe’s dismissal, Mumbrella understands that the potential conflict of interest of Howe’s involvement in the agency while also editing the magazine was not the only issue.


  1. Stuart
    9 Dec 09
    1:13 pm

  2. Ouch

  3. Elle
    9 Dec 09
    1:44 pm

  4. sounds like a Christmas Party casualty!

  5. Nick
    9 Dec 09
    1:46 pm

  6. Ooof!

  7. confused
    9 Dec 09
    1:52 pm

  8. @Elle – LOL!

  9. Marc
    9 Dec 09
    1:55 pm

  10. Does that mean he can’t ask them for a reference?

  11. Cat
    9 Dec 09
    1:59 pm

  12. I think the magazine is the only reference he’ll need.

  13. Grant
    9 Dec 09
    2:01 pm

  14. Nice tantie Lisa! Not only do you come out firing, but you look like a poor sport. I thought fairfax as a whole would be bigger than one employee.

    Didn’t think much of it to start with Nik leaving, but now I feel for him that a Corporation is SOOO willing to drag his name through the mud.

    Head up Nik, they’re obviously not worth working for. Good luck on the venture!

  15. peter
    9 Dec 09
    2:03 pm

  16. Yes, guaranteed to send you to sleep

  17. Ribbit
    9 Dec 09
    2:06 pm

  18. I know a fair few people of the fairer sex who would side with Lisa on this one.

  19. Nick
    9 Dec 09
    2:15 pm

  20. The casualties will surely come from the Top 100 party, but this particular editor wasn’t there.

  21. Nev
    9 Dec 09
    2:15 pm

  22. @Ribbit why would women side with Lisa on this? care to expand your comment?

  23. Ribbit
    9 Dec 09
    2:16 pm

  24. (removed for legal reasons)

  25. Nev
    9 Dec 09
    2:22 pm

  26. @Ribbit without some evidence there i think it would be wise to tread carefully with that comment. Or are you a disgruntled Fairfax employee?

  27. jape
    9 Dec 09
    2:25 pm

  28. I know no-one involved here, but accusations such as (edited for legal reasons) seems just plain dangerous. There’s a living breathing reputation at risk here.

  29. Jim
    9 Dec 09
    2:32 pm

  30. game over comb over

  31. Gezza
    9 Dec 09
    2:40 pm

  32. I though Tim was supposed to moderate these sorts of comments. I don’t know any of the individuals involved but I’d be calling my brief if I was this Nick bloke.

  33. The Hand
    9 Dec 09
    2:45 pm

  34. If he had a comb over they should have said something straight up, would have saved a lot of questioning about why…

  35. Bonny
    9 Dec 09
    2:45 pm

  36. Ribbit I’d be watching out for the defamation police.

  37. Larry
    9 Dec 09
    2:48 pm

  38. good consistent quality mag. nice shoes. seems like a good bloke to me.

  39. John Sands
    9 Dec 09
    3:07 pm

  40. Always hilarious to hear or read that when someone leaves Fairfax, they’ve always been fired.

  41. Fairfax + Westpac = Hopeless PR
    9 Dec 09
    3:14 pm

  42. Seriously,

    To feel the need to go on public record?
    Exectuve dramas play out everyday. And most get on with their lives.

    But Fairfax, like Westpac, feel the need on this occassion to inform and educate us of their brilliant decision making?

    It seems the harder you try, the more it says about you.

    So maybe talk to your PR people first, you know, get some advice from more experienced people – rather than taking your own. Because whilst you know how samrt you are, the rest of us don’t – but we do now! LOL

  43. Graeme - Prahran
    9 Dec 09
    3:40 pm

  44. Ahhhh; at least some of your “commentators” get it right. Fairfax, the self-styled Gurus of publishing”, have had a not-too-succesful track record with new publications for most of the last 30 years and more. And when anyone leaves, 90% of the time it is because they were, quote, “fired”. What a load of bullsh..

    Most of your comments are spot on; particularly “Larry”, “John Sands” and Fairfax plus Westpac . . . . ” If only they could get first-rate marketing AND editorial people in charge, working together, and NOT splintered like that dysfunctional Board has been for a few years. Sad but true. (At least One can always ‘wish’ I guess. If only . . .”).

  45. mumbrella
    9 Dec 09
    3:56 pm

  46. In fairness to Fairfax, it is worth just flagging up the course of events. They only went on the record at saying he’d been fired after he put out a press release (which we published) about his agency. So they were responding to what they saw as an inaccurate statement that he had quit.

    While I wasn’t privvy to what really went on, hypothetically, if I had fired someone and a few days later they went public saying they’d resigned, I might be tempted to react to it


    Tim – Mumbrella

  47. Nev
    9 Dec 09
    4:07 pm

  48. @Tim or do they just start heading into a case of he said she bitched?

    I mean why did they feel compelled to go out and say they fired him? Does this add to anything at all? Is it FailFacts just wielding their publishing muscle? surely if his conduct was so poor and so bad to be fired we would have heard about this before now?

    He may well have been fired. There are lots of corporate employments contracts out there that have clauses that say you cannot operate your own interest/business while being employed by them (I know my contract at CH7 said that when i worked there).

    I see some fast calls being made to legal Suits in the next few days.

  49. Grant
    9 Dec 09
    4:10 pm

  50. @Tim – It’s not that they did react. it’s how they reacted. As “Fairfax + Westpac = Hopeless PR” states…..”maybe talk to your PR people first”. Very unprofessional from a Corporation and an Executive. Look at how many responses to this article compared to the original posting about Nik starting his agency………..only 2 from last check.

    Fairfax could have let it slide and not look like a child throwing a tantrum!

    Now…Anyone know what really happened? I’m intrigued…….

  51. Anonymous
    9 Dec 09
    5:23 pm

  52. I agree with all of the above

  53. Jack
    9 Dec 09
    6:13 pm

  54. I’ve got no issues with Lisa Hudson having her say on this – especially after Nik apparently sent out a press release (!) to promote himself, big-note his new agency and make what appears to be an untruthful statement about the basis of his departure from Fairfax.

    Things might have been different if Nik had played the game the way it’s always (or mostly) been played – either not saying much or anything about the reasons for his departure or citing the old ‘launched the mag, now time to move on, great time working with the team at Fairfax but new opportunities for the new year blah blah blah’

    But there’s clearly a lot more to this than either Nik or Lisa is saying…

  55. Alan
    9 Dec 09
    9:43 pm

  56. There’s nothing wrong with Fairfax’s PR on this issue. It’s barely a “tantrum”. Just getting the right story out there. That’s what PR is all about isn’t it?

  57. Fairfax + Westpac = Hopeless PR
    9 Dec 09
    10:23 pm

  58. Alan – in response -You are right. PR is about getting the right story out there. Your ‘right’ story. It woudl come under the heading – Issues management. It is a critical part of PR. And PR is about contributing to the positive management of the brand for the organisation. In this case there was no issue to manage. ie Nik Howe’s press release got a write up on Mumbrella and managed to attract a massive 2 comments. However, poor issues management , ie the so called ‘correct information’ has dragged Fairfax’s name into a debate that, as you correctly point out is not a ‘tantrum’. But becasue of poor issues management now it and seems to continue to gain momentum.

    The more protesting there is about this, from ‘apparent’ Fairfax supporters, the longer it looms for Fairfax, and the more I think, maybe Farifax wanted to help Nik Howe build his newly found minnow into a brand with better awareness than say ‘f2’ ever had.

    Alan, you don’t work in corporate affairs at fiarfax do you? Do they even have that department?

  59. Alan
    9 Dec 09
    10:55 pm

  60. No, I don’t work there.

    If I did, I wouldn’t be writing without surname or contact details in the comments section of a blog.

  61. Bold Type
    10 Dec 09
    2:32 am

  62. Now that they have their kicking boots on, Fairfax brass might want to consider jetting down to Melbourne and booting quite a few silly people out of the new Age building.

    While spoil a fine space with the same old executive furniture?

  63. Graeme - Prahran
    10 Dec 09
    4:26 am

  64. Only “a few silly people”? I would have a wholesale cleanout. 70% of those who style themselves smugly as ‘journos.’ wouldn’t have lasted 5 minutes amongst the olde hands of say 10-30 years ago. They were professionals; people who were proud of every word and jotting done, with articles being carefully crafted, and not just scrawled down any oild how.. Just ask the old hands who still there.

    Sad but true.

  65. Graham
    10 Dec 09
    7:33 am

  66. Given this has been done on an industry blog, the Fairfax management have felt compelled to put the record straight. We do not know the facts behind why he was dismissed but given that many Fairfax staff may read this site, perhaps it was important for them to see the facts corrected.

    And no I don’t work for Fairfax, for their PR agencies or anything like that.

  67. Graham
    10 Dec 09
    7:48 am

  68. …or perhaps the parties involved in whatever issues led to the dismissal were external to Fairfax so it was important for them to see the story repudiated publicly as after all, it would seem FFsaid nothing of the issue until Nik did.

  69. Grant
    10 Dec 09
    8:35 am

  70. @Graham – If FF wanted their staff to know, then hold an internal meeting and discuss. Don’t announce in this forum.

    It just seems that they have allowed one individual to get under their skin….This is a trait that should be admired….Nik’s CV is good, he’s done well launching the title, just pissed a few people off somewhere/somehow!

    FF’s best approach would have been to leave it alone and provide “no comment” when asked for a reference by a potential future employer, or state “Nik’s moved on, We’ve moved on, there’s no more to it.”

  71. Sam
    10 Dec 09
    8:50 am

  72. Maybe Mr Howe was simply being prudent and preparing for life after Fairfax. Have you seen how thin Sport & Style is?

  73. Mirko
    10 Dec 09
    9:19 am

  74. Worst editor ever. How he got the job in the first place, only Lisa Hudson knows.

  75. Cat
    10 Dec 09
    9:33 am

  76. So bad that he broke world headlines by printing the jelena dokic story when Sport & Style was only a few months old and other media companies had been chasing the story for years.

  77. Grant
    10 Dec 09
    9:38 am

  78. @Cat – Maybe that’s why they fired him! He was too clever/good at his job…..At Fairfax they call it misconduct for showing up the Executive team.

  79. Quentin Long
    10 Dec 09
    10:16 am

  80. Jeezus
    Has anyone stopped and thought the threat that this mere conflict of interest problem has created for the publisher – regardless of the company.

    A publisher lives on their integrity and anyone who threatens that integrity threatens the livelihood of all other employees.

    In this instance Fairfax needed to demonstrate to all – employees, stakeholders and shareholders- that they will aggressively defend their integrity. If they let Howe ‘get away with it’ they set an awful precedent for all others within the organisation.

  81. Grant
    10 Dec 09
    10:32 am

  82. @Quentin – I agree with you. Their best approach to cover off what you have outlined was to hold a staff meeting, lay out the ground rules/reasons and move on. I had no idea there was an issue until Lisa announced. Bad PR on their behalf.

    Then again, we don’t even know what his ‘Misconduct’ was…….What did Howe ‘get away with’? No-one will elaborate, so we can only assume! But are we correct. Like I said previously, I did not care about Nik’s move when I read it and 24hrs a go, only 2 people had bothered to post anything. Now Fairfax appear like bullies.

  83. jape
    10 Dec 09
    1:11 pm

  84. Interesting to read these comments for what they imply: While there are supporters, there’s also a fair swathe of people who appear to have no love for Fairfax. These are people who place the ads that keep Fairfax alive. Time to sell your shares?

  85. Trevor
    10 Dec 09
    11:49 pm

  86. who cares about Nik – he’d be forgotten in a week – worst for Fairfax though is who actually cares about that magazine – it’s the biggest NOTHING – just fluff with swimmers dressed in Gucci – OOHHH PLLLLEAASE –

  87. Fake Ron Walker
    11 Dec 09
    1:08 pm

  88. When I was there we used the backpage of the AFR to get some great PR about a little fall out we were having in the boardroom. Touche ! Anyone for pig hunting ?

  89. Jack
    11 Dec 09
    2:59 pm

  90. Misconduct sounds different to conflict of interest. Is the real story yet to unfold?

  91. Stuart Ridley
    11 Dec 09
    4:08 pm

  92. @Quentin Long: fair call!

    It’s not a _little_ conflict of interest issue — it’s a bloody big one. It’s misconduct enough, regardless of what else Nik got up to at Fairfax.

    Every contract I’ve seen and/or signed in this industry includes a heavy section about moonlighting, freelancing, consulting etc for another publishing business in direct competition with your _current_ publisher. Break that deal and you’re out.

    If you use (or even attempt to use) your employer’s resources or IP to compete against them, then getting fired is only the beginning.

  93. Graeme - Prahran
    11 Dec 09
    4:19 pm

  94. Ahhh; “truth will (always) out”. Well in this case it is taking a bloody long time. With in between every kiund of comment; idiotic ranging thru to prescient and knowledgable.

    But will someone put ,e out of my misery and just give us the facts – tha plain facts; then we can all get on with the rt of our lives.

    “here’s hoping Esmerelda?

  95. Jack
    11 Dec 09
    4:48 pm

  96. Doubt it’s so much “regardless of what else Nik got up to at Fairfax” as exactly what else he got up to..

  97. mumbrella
    15 Dec 09
    2:44 pm

  98. At this point, we’re closing this comment stream for legal reasons.

    Tim – Mumbrella