Garry Linnell: Jaspan’s remarks about SMH and Age merger are ‘complete fiction’

Fairfax Media has responded angrily to former editor-in-chief Andrew Jaspan’s comments that the company is moving downmarket, describing his comments as a “complete fiction”.

This morning, Jaspan told Mumbrella that the shift to a tabloid format would effectively lead to the merging of the historic titles of The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age. He also claimed the move would see the titles move down to the midmarket.

This afternoon Garry Linnell, Fairfax’s editorial director of Fairfax Metropolitian Media division said in a statement: “It’s complete fiction. The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald are not merging and they are not going downmarket.”

Instead Fairfax argues its strategy will see the paper move upmarket after the transition to the new tabloid, or “compact” format.

“In fact, when the papers go compact in March both mastheads will go further upmarket – that’s where our readers want these papers to be,” said Linnell.

Linnell also had stern words for the former editor-in-chief of The Age telling Mumbrella: “The Age tried mid-market under Andrew Jaspan and it failed.”

“The papers will remain as distinct from each other as they’ve always been, reflecting different cities and different readership. Andrew has not been briefed on the project and states his uninformed opinion as fact,” he said.

This morning Jaspan told Mumbrella that readers are already seeing elements of a “merger” and that the papers would be focusing on the “mid-market”.

“Fundamentally, they have has decided there will have merging of the teams… where you have people writing across both papers and so now in both papers you see the phrase ‘has told Fairfax’ rather than just ‘has told The Age’ or ‘has told The Herald’,” said Jaspan.

Nic Christensen


  1. Lindsay.
    29 Jan 13
    2:55 pm

  2. Given the number of journalists writing for Fairfax with their stories published in both the SMH and The Age, someone should tell Garry Linnell what is going on at Fairfax. The papers have been merging and that is obvious to every reader of the papers and websites.

  3. OscarJones
    29 Jan 13
    3:00 pm

  4. The move to tabloid size is a positive but is Garry Linnell having us on when he says the SMH & Age haven’t gone ‘downmarket” ?

    In particular the SMH has been Daily Telegraph Lite for going on 5 years now. No wonder The Guardian has seen an opportunity.

  5. seriouslooks
    29 Jan 13
    3:07 pm

  6. Just cannot get over how ‘serious’ these two guys are on their photos… I do realise there’s not much to be smiling about at the moment but come on…

  7. Bernard
    29 Jan 13
    3:24 pm

  8. Shows how little Fairfax management know about tabloid newspapers. Everything must change, not just the size of the paper. Do they seriously want to attract new readers, or just expect their existing high-brow readers to adapt to a smaller format. That just doesn’t work as UK newspapers discovered.

  9. Ben
    29 Jan 13
    3:30 pm

  10. Did they ask Linnell to give them his “angry face” for his official photo, or does he always looks like that?

  11. Cognitively DIssonant
    29 Jan 13
    5:02 pm

  12. Gary Linnell is far too old to have absolutely no gut hanging over his belt. Bloody hell, Linnell, eat some fried food: you’re making the rest of us look bad.

  13. Jack B. Nimble
    29 Jan 13
    5:28 pm

  14. Is March also the month when FFX will put up the paywall around its metro websites and charge for the iPad editions?

  15. sidog
    29 Jan 13
    5:40 pm

  16. Fight fight fight! My money is on Garry… check out the stare in that pick – “What you looking at Jaspan?”

  17. Barry
    29 Jan 13
    10:26 pm

  18. If you stare long enough into Gary’s eyes you think, momentarily, you are a chicken.

  19. Anonymous
    30 Jan 13
    8:53 am

  20. i think Garry’s a very sexy man

  21. Are we not just over reacting a little?
    30 Jan 13
    9:30 am

  22. The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age have changed format over many years.

    The Sydney Morning Herald started with classifieds on the front cover, then there were pictures, colour, paper changes, ink changes. It’s just a vessel for the editorial.

    A size change makes sense for me to meet the market of today. That doesn’t mean that you have to change the editorial however.

    If you are the type of person who thinks something has to be done a certain way to fit a format, then perhaps it might be your opinions that are incorrect?

    Just sayin’

  23. Miss j
    30 Jan 13
    10:30 am

  24. And Jaspan would know this how? ….

    Very nasty taste in his vitriolic mouth me thinks.

  25. James
    30 Jan 13
    2:49 pm

  26. What’s a Newspaper?