Michael Rowland, Adele Ferguson and Mark Baker resign from Melbourne Press Club amid ongoing disputes

The Melbourne Press Club is without three of its senior members following the resignation of president Adele Ferguson, vice president Michael Rowland and chief executive Mark Baker.

The three tendered their resignations over the last two days due to ongoing disputes between Baker and veteran club member Michael Smith.

Rowland was the first to hand in his resignation, citing ongoing disputes within the Melbourne Press Club as the reason

First reported by The Guardian, Rowland was the first to resign, telling the board of the Press Club on Tuesday he would be stepping down. Rowland, an ABC journalist and host of ABC News Breakfast, cited the issues between Smith and Baker as the reason behind his departure.

Ferguson, an investigative reporter with Nine’s print titles, and Baker, a former editor of the Canberra Times and senior editor at The Age, followed with their own resignations shortly after.

A statement from the Press Club today thanked the trio for their time with the organisation.

“The MPC has with regret accepted the resignations and thanks Adele, Michael and Mark for their significant contributions to the club over many years respectively,” read the statement.

“The MPC Board met this morning and resolved that current vice president Eileen Berry will become interim president and acting CEO, and that the search for a permanent CEO will commence immediately.”

The dispute initially began when Baker made the decision to end discussions with Wilkinson Publishing for a second edition of the Press Club’s Media Legends book. The negotiations were spearheaded by Smith, but Baker decided the publisher, which had purchased the rights for the Australian version of the Milo Yiannopoulos book Dangerous, wasn’t the right choice for the Press Club tome.

The debates have been raging for eight months, with Rowland saying in his resignation that it seemed unlikely an end was in sight.

The Melbourne Press Club has addressed concerns that the resignations will impact the future of its events and awards, saying additional resources have been allocated to ensure they continue as scheduled.

One event in question is the Quill awards, which caused another dispute earlier in the year when Baker made the choice to drop support for the awards from the Wilnic Family Trust, a fund set up by Jo Nicholls, the widow of the late Age investigative reporter David Wilson, to honour Wilson’s memory. Baker instead chose to take sponsorship from the Commonwealth Bank, despite Ferguson winning a Gold Walkley for her exposure of the bank’s ‘unconscionable’ banking practices.


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