MEAA begins search for appointed CEO as SMH news editor rules himself out

Marcus Strom

Union the Media and Arts Alliance (MEAA) has put up ads in its search for a new CEO, with two leading figures at the union ruling themselves out of the job.

While the MEAA Federal Council agreed comprehensively to abolish the previous model of an elected federal secretary – 64 votes to 28 – the overhaul was strongly opposed by some members who claimed the election of a CEO by the board was undemocratic.

Sydney Morning Herald news editor Marcus Strom told Mumbrella it would be “hypocritical” to apply for a role he spent 12 months campaigning against, whilst federal secretary Chris Warren also reiterated he would not be throwing his hat in the ring for the role.

Yesterday the MEAA began its search for a chief executive with job adverts inviting applications until October 10. The successful candidate will be appointed by the MEAA board, rather than the 16,000 membership base, in a new structure which angered journalists and crew sections of the union.

Strom, who had been tipped to become the next federal secretary, told Mumbrella he would not be applying.

“I was pretty forthright in my opinions that I didn’t think it was the way forward so it would be hypocritical to apply after spending 12 months campaigning against it,” he said. “My concern is that it will be a secretive process by 10 people rather than an open, democratic and transparent process in front of 16,000 members.

Chris Warren“It is self perpetuating and self serving and the membership will be quite cut off from the day to day running of the union.”

But Strom stressed he will work with whoever is appointed to the role to champion the rights and concerns of MEAA members. “I will work with whoever they appoint on behalf of the membership, not just the board. We need to have an active presence across the industries more than ever and it needs energy and vision,” he said.

Warren, who was a strong advocate for change, also confirmed he will not apply. Earlier this year, he announced his intention to retire after more than 15 years at the helm of the union, a position that has not changed, he told Mumbrella.

Warren said that while there were objections to the restructure the issue has now “settled down” although he acknowledged that some members continue to oppose the board appointment of a CEO.

He said the successful candidate needed to display passion and possess an understanding of the issues faced by the MEAA and its members.

“We need someone who can manage the organisation and provide leadership. They need to be passionate about what we do and are passionate about journalism and the performing arts and who thinks like we do – that they are most important people in the world,” Warren said.

“All creative industries are going through immense change driven by changes in technology. We need someone who understands that and grasps the issues and can be creative about how we continue to build vibrant creative industries.”

The union was not necessarily looking for a candidate with CEO experience but someone who could provide a balance of experience and potential, he added.

“There has been a lot of interest, theses types of jobs don’t come up very often,” Warren said.

Steve Jones


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