Garry Linnell: Jaspan’s remarks about SMH and Age merger are ‘complete fiction’

Fairfax Media has responded angrily to former editor-in-chief Andrew Jaspan’s comments that the company is moving downmarket, describing his comments as a “complete fiction”.

This morning, Jaspan told Mumbrella that the shift to a tabloid format would effectively lead to the merging of the historic titles of The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age. He also claimed the move would see the titles move down to the midmarket.

This afternoon Garry Linnell, Fairfax’s editorial director of Fairfax Metropolitian Media division said in a statement: “It’s complete fiction. The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald are not merging and they are not going downmarket.”

Instead Fairfax argues its strategy will see the paper move upmarket after the transition to the new tabloid, or “compact” format.

“In fact, when the papers go compact in March both mastheads will go further upmarket – that’s where our readers want these papers to be,” said Linnell.

Linnell also had stern words for the former editor-in-chief of The Age telling Mumbrella: “The Age tried mid-market under Andrew Jaspan and it failed.”

“The papers will remain as distinct from each other as they’ve always been, reflecting different cities and different readership. Andrew has not been briefed on the project and states his uninformed opinion as fact,” he said.

This morning Jaspan told Mumbrella that readers are already seeing elements of a “merger” and that the papers would be focusing on the “mid-market”.

“Fundamentally, they have has decided there will have merging of the teams… where you have people writing across both papers and so now in both papers you see the phrase ‘has told Fairfax’ rather than just ‘has told The Age’ or ‘has told The Herald’,” said Jaspan.

Nic Christensen


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