Chris Janz departs Nine as James Chessell and Alex Parsons are promoted

Nine chief digital and publishing officer Chris Janz will step down after four years at the helm of the metro publishing business, initially part of Fairfax.

The former CEO of Allure Media and HuffPost Australia became Fairfax Media’s MD of metro publishing in 2016, and has served in his current role at Nine since 2018.

In his place, Nine CEO Mike Sneesby has announced that James Chessell will be promoted to the role of managing director – publishing, while Alex Parsons will take on the role of a chief digital officer.

The changes mark newly minted CEO Mike Sneesby’s first significant reshuffle since taking over the role from Hugh Marks in April. At the time, Nine’s chair Peter Costello revealed that Janz, along with Michael Stephenson and Lizzie Young, had all expressed interest in the top role.

Chris Janz is departing Nine

In a note to staff, Sneesby said the changes will broadly affect “how we manage digital product and technology across Nine”.

Janz played a significant part in the recent history of Fairfax, revitalising the metro mastheads that suffered greatly in the early 2010s. Former Fairfax CEO Greg Hywood appointed Janz to lead what he called ‘the blue team‘, a covert team given a remit to come up with a workable business model that effectively saved metro print titles.

Sneesby hailed Janz’ impact on former Fairfax mastheads The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and the Financial Review.

“Five years ago, the Herald, The Age and the Financial Review were facing considerable challenges brought on by structural change in the industry. Under Chris’ leadership, they have transformed into thriving businesses with record audiences,” Sneesby said.

“Chris has helped ensure our mastheads are among the best performing in the world both from a journalism perspective but also financially. Importantly under his leadership, we have been able to invest in our newsrooms and produce arguably the strongest journalism in the mastheads’ histories.”

Sneesby also thanked Janz for his work refreshing and growing 9Now, as well as recently heading up Nine’s deals with Facebook and Google.

“I have worked alongside Chris for many years and personally want to thank him and congratulate him on the work he has done. Chris will be with us until after results and we will make time to thank him properly with the farewell he deserves,” Sneesby added.

In a note to the publishing and digital teams, Janz said it had been an honour to lead Nine’s metro masthead. “A special thanks to the 2016 Blue team, a group determined to secure the future of our masthead journalism,” he said.

“With that plan delivered, now is the appropriate time to pass the baton to new leadership. I’ll be working to ensure a smooth transition and have no immediate plans, so – lockdowns permitting – will be around to say thank you in the coming weeks.

“I know Mike and Nine deeply believe in the company’s journalism and its digital future… Thank you again for your support and dedication. Australian journalism is in great hands.”

James Chessell, Alex Parsons

James Chessell, currently the executive editor for the SMH and The Age, steps in the role of managing director – publishing. He’ll assume management responsibility for all mastheads including the AFR.

CEO of CarAdvice and Drive, Alex Parsons, returns to the Nine mothership as part of the changes, having previously led the Nine Digital business during the launch of 9Now as well as the transition of the Ninemsn business to Nine Digital.

His remit will now include Nine’s digital businesses including product and technology, while he will remain on the board of Drive.

“Both roles will report to me, and these changes will allow Publishing, under James, to continue to maintain the significant momentum it has built over the past five years. Alex will be charged with leading our investments in digital growth including product and technology,” Sneesby said.

Tory Maguire will now take on the role of executive editor, overseeing The Age, SMH, Brisbane Times and WAToday.

Of her appointment, Chessell said: She has done a superb job since joining as National Editor in April 2018, helping reshape our federal politics, world and business coverage. Her news judgement, drive and attention to detail have been exemplary.

“Tory has brought added energy to our newsroom leadership. I have no doubt she will be unrelenting in pursuing our goals of breaking news, setting the agenda and lifting quality across everything we do in order to produce journalism that sets us apart and is valued by our paying subscribers.”


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