Andrew Jaspan, editor of academia-meets-journalism website, The Conversation, has slammed Fairfax Media’s editorial management shake-up, which saw editor-in-chief of The Age, Andrew Holden, depart.
In an editorial posted on The Conversation, Jaspan said Fairfax, which publishes The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and The Australian Financial Review, had been “badly let down by management”.
“Fairfax has been badly let down by its management, who are largely bereft of an editorial vision. And since they had no clue, they outsourced that job to management consultants Bain & Co, who recommended replacing well-paid reporters with trainees to reduce costs,” he wrote.
Jaspan was editor-in-chief of Melbourne’s The Age and The Sunday Age from 2004 to 2008. He was sacked from the role as part of Fairfax’s plan to slash 550 jobs at the end of 2008. His tenure was marred by controversy, including a near revolt in the newsroom in April this year when journalists voted unanimously to pass a motion accusing him of undermining their ability to report without fear or favour.
Citing his experience at The Age, Jaspan wrote: “While editing The Age from 2004 the primary message from the Management was: just slash costs faster than revenues fall. And the very journalists who used to define Fairfax were seen by that management as the problem. They weren’t seen as an asset by the company in the way, say, The Guardian or New York Times see their journalists. For Fairfax they were simply a cost to shed.”