The Australian makes eight new appointments as it reaches digital subscription milestone

News Corp’s The Australian made eight new appointments over the weekend, naming several new editors and correspondents.

The announcement included several journalists making their return to the title, and some promotions for current staff mumbers.

David Penberthy returns to the title after being national political editor from 1996 to 1999. He then left The Australian for The Daily Telegraph in Sydney, covering NSW politics. He was the editor of the Tele from 2005 to 2008, and edited and the Adelaide Sunday Mail.

Penberthy is a News Corp columnist and currently co-presenter of Adelaide’s FIVEaa breakfast show. FIVEaa is owned by Nova Entertainment.

Alice Workman, currently political journalist for The Australian, has been appointed as the editor of Strewth, replacing the departing James Jeffrey. Prior to her role with The Australian, Workman was the political editor for Buzzfeed News in Australia.

Walkley Award-winning freelance journalist Fiona Harai has been appointed to The Weekend Australian. She returns to the title after 14 years, after spending 13 years as a senior writer for The Australian, and has worked in print and television. She’s also the author of two books.

Longtime senior reporter for The Australia, Lisa Allen, has been named editor of The Weekend Australian’s property magazine, Mansion Australia. Allen will continue to write about business affairs across the masthead, specialising in tourism. The appointment comes as long-standing property editor Turi Condon’s departure was revealed last week.

Former Canberra bureau chief and Queensland bureau chief for The Australian, Geoff Chambers, has been appointed political correspondent, based in Canberra. Chambers was previously news editor and senior political reporter at The Daily Telegraph and The Sunday Telegraph and has also been head of news for the Gold Coast Bulletin.

Joe Kelly will take on the role of Canberra bureau chief. Kelly joined the paper in 2008 and has worked in the parliamentary press gallery since 2010, covering ten budgets and four elections in that time.

Taking up the role of news director is Sid Maher, who has worked across The Australian in roles including national chief of staff, national affairs editor, political correspondent and NSW editor.

Ben Packham has been named foreign affairs and defence correspondent. Packham brings almost 20 years of experience to the role, and has held positions with Melbourne’s Herald Sun and worked at The Australian as a political reporter in Canberra in 2011. He joined the bureau again early last year after almost four years in Papua New Guinea.

The staffing announcements come as The Australian has reported hitting 145,000 digital subscribers, meaning its paid digital subscriptions are now higher than the peak print weekday sales of 140,000.

The Australian CEO Nicholas Gray, Alice Bradbury, general manager of marketing, and Christopher Dore, editor in chief

It’s been eight years since The Australian launched its digital subscriptions. Editor in chief, Christopher Dore, said the milestone is a tribute to the talent the title has.

“The rapid growth in the number of paid subscribers is exceptional and a real credit to our journalists, columnists, editors and producers who write for an engaged and intelligent audience hungry for news, analysis and opinion that enriches and informs their lives,” said Dore.

“Our success in building our audience is in no small part a result of our team embracing new forms of digital storytelling, including the creation of outstanding investigative news podcasts such as The Teacher’s Pet and Who the Hell is Hamish. We will continue to explore new ways of telling stories to bring the very best journalism to our readers, whether it’s in print or on desktops, mobiles or other devices.”

The Australian’s managing director Nicholas Gray said: “Reaching this digital transformation milestone is a world class achievement. The only two mastheads we are aware of to have accomplished this more quickly, from paywall launch, are The New York Times and The Washington Post.

“We have been relentless and consistent in investing in quality journalism, evolving our product and understanding our consumer and customer needs. Our digital subscriptions have come of age and we move into the future with great confidence. I am extremely proud of all the teams both within The Australian and across the broader News Corp Australia business who have contributed to this success.”


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