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Annika Smethurst joins The Age as state political editor

Annika Smethurst will soon return from the industry sabbatical she took in August, when she begins as The Age’s new state political editor next year.

News Corp’s former political editor took a step back from journalism due to the “heavy toll” of the Australian Federal Police’s (AFP) raid on her home in 2019, and the ensuing media attention and threat of charges.

Smethurst will join The Age next year

The possibility of being charged over a 2018 story on the government’s plans to permit spying on Australian citizens loomed for almost a year, before the AFP confirmed in May that it would not pursue charges against her.

Gay Alcorn, who left The Guardian in September to become the first woman to lead the Nine masthead, said she is “delighted” Smethurst will lead the state politics team.

“She is an outstanding journalist, having won two Walkley awards and two Quill awards. During her time covering federal politics, she was twice named the Canberra press gallery’s journalist of the year,” Alcorn noted.

“The AFP raid on her home last year sparked an important debate on press freedom, which she handled with great integrity.”

Alcorn replaced Alex Lavelle, who exited earlier this year after a petition was signed by close to 70 staff asking for the newspaper to be more racially diverse and that The Age’s editorial choices be made in Melbourne, not Sydney.

Yesterday evening, Alcorn addressed rumours that Nine management had not signed The Age’s charter of independence. “It has been endorsed by the board and is supported by all the management,” she wrote. “It is central to what we do.”

Economics reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, Jennifer Duke, agreed, adding: “Never have they [editors] hassled me to pursue an agenda, ignore a story or take political sides. Frankly, I’d quit if they did.”

Also yesterday, Nine announced it had snapped up Monika Kos to front the 5pm bulletin in Perth. The former Today Tonight and Ten News host is well-known in the market, and will start in the role on Monday 7 December.

“It’s a privilege to join the team at Nine and I’m humbled to have this opportunity to once again bring viewers the news that matters to them, in what has been an extraordinary year for all of us,” Kos said.

“I’m excited to call Nine my new home, at the top of the terrace in the city, and I hope you’ll join us from Monday at 5pm.”

Michael Thomson, who leads Nine News at 6pm, said Kos “knows Perth and Perth knows her”, while Nine’s Perth director of news, Michael Best, noted that “we will now be the only commercial network in Perth to have two hours of live, local, rolling news coverage each weeknight”.

“It means the people of Perth will be better informed about the latest news as it happens, from the moment they get home,” he said.

“We will also continue to broadcast 9News Late from our Perth studios, which makes us the only commercial station locally to deploy its crew to broadcast a late-night bulletin across the country.”

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