Editor in chief of The Age Andrew Holden is set to leave the Fairfax Media newspaper, with deputy editor Mark Forbes stepping in as interim editor.
Holden’s departure precedes a broader editorial management shake-up across Fairfax’s stable of newspapers, including The Sunday Age, Sydney Morning Herald and The Sun Herald, with the company beginning consultation on the changes today.
Holden has been at the helm of the Melbourne paper since 2012. He is understood to be leaving the newspaper next week.
Sean Aylmer, Fairfax Media editorial director, said in a statement: “After discussions with Andrew Holden, he has decided to leave the company after 13 years, the last eight as a daily editor, with three and a half years as Editor in Chief of The Age.
“Andrew has successfully led The Age through a period of great transition and we thank him for the contribution he has made and wish him well for the future. Mark Forbes will be acting editor in chief of The Age.”
Holden said in a statement: “It’s an enormous privilege to be editor in chief of The Age and I have thoroughly enjoyed that experience. It is an outstanding newsroom and perfectly placed to thrive in the new media environment. After eight years of leading newsrooms through many challenges, I’m looking forward to new opportunities.”
It is rumoured Fairfax will expand Sydney Morning Herald editor in chief Darren Goodsir’s remit to include The Age.
Fairfax has today begun consultations on the introduction of a new metro editorial structure for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.
Aylmer said in a statement: “We will be consulting across the newsroom extensively over the next 10 days and looking for feedback before finalising the model.
“The proposed structure enhances the delivery of our quality journalism across the country with depth in our key news topics, including federal politics, state politics and policy, sport, entertainment, investigations and justice.
“It will simplify newsroom workflows and allows reporters and editors more autonomy to better manage their workloads and create content that meets the 24/7 demands of our audiences.
“Our new structure is similar to the recently announced newsroom structures of the Wall Street Journal and Daily Telegraph of London and other newsrooms around the world.
“The new structure will deliver greater focus on content creation and distribution roles – with our editorial people focused on the creation of content and our distribution people focused on the dissemination of our content. We believe this will strengthen our audience-first approach.
“The reporters and editors in the newsrooms will remain focused on great stories, videos, graphics, photos and multimedia. The distribution arm of the newsroom will get that content to the biggest and best possible audience via all channels available, digitally and in print.
“To support the new structure, a number of new roles will be created, and some roles altered.”
The changes follow news that the company is set to shed another 70 jobs as it looks to move production of its metro newspapers back to Pagemasters.
Reports of his departure from the newspaper follow on from the masthead posting year-on-year declines across its digital subscriptions. In the October to December quarter, The Age slipped backwards by 2,280 subscribers compared with the same time last year, while quarter-on-quarter the masthead lost 2,513 subscribers.
The Age also posted declines in its print sales, down 8.7% from 106,843 in the December quarter 2014 to 97,503 in the December quarter 2015.
During Holden’s tenure, Fairfax Media incorrectly identified a man as a teenage terror-suspect by police on its front pages of The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald and Canberra Times. The Age was also sued for defamation by Treasurer Joe Hockey over a story which suggested he was selling access to businesses and lobbyists in return for donations to the Liberal Party.
Fairfax has since announced the new editorial roles as part of the restructure, denying rumours The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald would be run by one editor-in-chief.
The restructure will see both mastheads have an editor in chief and an editor.
The head of digital channels will work across both mastheads and be responsible for the distribution of content through all digital channels including desktop, mobile, tablet and third parties. Similarly the head of print channels will operate across both mastheads.
The restructure sees the role of topic editor expanded, with topic editors responsible for the creation of content within their topics which will be used to drive audience growth. For national topics, topic editors will work across all newsrooms.