Neil Breen, the editor of Australia’s biggest selling newspaper, is to depart after nearly seven years at the helm. Breen told Mumbrella he is considering a move to television.
Breen told Mumbrella: “I’ve been the editor of the Sunday Telegraph for seven years. There comes a witching hour for everyone. I’ve been thinking about this all year. I know people will interpret this as me throwing the baby out with the bathwater, but it’s not the case. I asked myself was I prepared to reload and go again? I’ve been asking myself why would I give up the best job on the planet, but covering the Olympics got me out of the office and time to think.
“The person in this role needs to have vision for the next go – it needs someone like me in 2006. I owe it to myself and the paper to go. I’m proud of making the paper more cohesive between news, gossip and sport, I launched Insider, we’ve broken some big news stories, some big federal political stories like the Costello Howard deal, and some of my deputies and staff have gone on to to great things.”
When asked if he’d taken a redundancy package, Breen said that he and News had “reached an arrangement.” In the formal statement released today, Breen was at pains to point out that the split with News was an amicable one:
“This decision has taken me six months to reach and I make it with both a heavy heart and excitement about a future career outside of newspapers. I know my decision will be interpreted by some that I have either been sacked or had a falling out with management over the changes taking place in our business. I want to stress nothing could be further from the truth.
“This is purely a personal decision I have made and I found it very, very difficult to tell both Kim Williams and Group Editorial Director Campbell Reid.Kim, Campbell and the News management team are doing a fantastic job in transforming the business. Their drive to ensure we use every resource at our disposal to do a better job by our customers is the right course. I will be cheering what I am sure will be their ongoing successes from outside the company.
“I will also find it very difficult to speak to my colleagues on The Sunday Telegraph. We have had such great times together – many ups and some big downs – and I respect them all greatly and thank them for their wonderful support since 2006. I look forward to speaking with them all personally over the coming days.”
Breen’s editorship has seen Sunday Telegraph sales figures outstrip those of nearest rival the Sun Herald by over 80,000, according to the latest Audit Bureau of Circulation figures.
Controversial moments for Breen included the newspaper’s 2009 publication of nude photographs it wrongly believed to be of politician Pauline Hanson.
Mumbrella editor Tim Burrowes interviewed Breen last year: