Paddy Manning ‘resigns’ while Fairfax says the AFR ‘doesn’t have to explain itself’

Fairfax journalist Paddy Manning has departed the company after reaching a settlement with his employer who has rejected his criticisms and conceded that they were forced to “let Paddy go”.

The business journalist was asked to clear out his desk earlier this week after writing an opinion piece for news website Crikey which denounced “creeping advertorial” that his employer was allowing into The Australian Financial Review and expressed concerns about business reporters at The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age being merged with their sister publication, following last week’s Fairfax restructure.

Fairfax did not issue Manning with a termination notice and has instead allowed him “resign” following days of negotiations between the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance and the Fairfax Media.

Manning this afternoon tweeted the news of his departure and thanked those who have supported him.


“I’ve resigned from Fairfax. Terms confidential. Thanks to all who’ve lent their support in the last few days and heartfelt thanks to my former colleagues for their support at Tuesdays stopwork meeting and lastly RESPECT to all at Fairfax – a workplace I loved – fighting for future of quality journalism. Miss you already!,” he wrote in a series of tweets.

However, in an interview, broadcast this afternoon, with the ABC’s Media Report Fairfax CEO Greg Hywood told the ABC:

“Well Paddy wrote something really undermining his own colleagues and the work that they have done,” said Hywood.

“No organisation can let that stand and so we had to let Paddy go.”

When challenged by host Richard Aedy on whether the allegations in Manning’s opinion piece were true Hywood said the issue was one of principle.

“We have very open and free discussions inside this organisation and we have always prided ourselves in doing that but to go outside to a competiting organisation criticising your own colleagues we thought it not appropriate,” he said.

“As I say we couldn’t let it stand it’s just a matter of principle for us.”

The Fairfax CEO also made clear that he did not believe the business newspaper had to explain itself, telling the ABC:

“Paddy just did the wrong thing that’s all. The point — Paddy was attempting to make was that somehow the material in the Financial Review is advertorial – well it’s not.

“The Financial Review is the preeminent business publication in this country it’s been there since 1952 it does a fabulous job and is highly regarded for the quality of its journalism and the quality of its editing.

“The Financial Review doesn’t have to explain itself because it’s done the job it should do as a journal of record and analysis of business in this country. Fullstop.”

Hywood’s statements, in a prerecorded interview, were broadcast only hours after the MEAA issued a statement confirming the ‘resignation’ and paying tribute to Manning.

The MEAA statement said:

“Paddy Manning has resigned from Fairfax Media.

Paddy is an award-winning journalist known for his fearless, ethical approach to controversial topics.

“There is a deep affection within the Sydney Morning Herald for Paddy, both for his enthusiasm and his courageous reporting on issues including climate change and the mixed fortunes of Nathan Tinkler.

“His departure is deeply felt and regretted by his colleagues, but we are pleased to see that Paddy and Fairfax Media have been able to part ways on mutually agreeable terms.”

Fairfax editorial director Garry Linnell also issued a statement following Manning’s departure.

“Paddy Manning has been a terrific business journalist for Fairfax Media for many years, including a successful two-year stint as national chief of staff for BusinessDay, combining the business sections of The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age,” said Linnell.

“Paddy will be missed. We have accepted his resignation and wish him all the best for the future.”

Crikey reported yesterday that the senior editors of The Australian Financial Review had also sent an email to staff in the wake of Manning’s piece labelling it “unfounded and frankly naive criticism”.

Nic Christensen


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