Ex-SMH executive editor Tom Burton named publisher of The Mandarin

Screen Shot 2014-05-05 at 12.30.59 PMPrivate Media has appointed former head of communications for media watchdog the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) to be publisher for its new title aimed at public servants, The Mandarin.

The website is to launch in July 2014 and will have an editor, former Crikey editor Jason Whittaker and three reporters.

“We are delighted to have Tom’s unique publishing, public sector and digital experience leading our efforts to create a venue for senior public servants helping to build better communities,” said Marina Go CEO of Private Media CEO.

Burton brings a wealth of experience in publishing, public administration and digital media. A journalism and communications veteran, who was a long-time executive editor of the Sydney Morning Herald,  he was the ACMA’s executive manager for Gov 2.0, stakeholder engagement and communications, a role he had held for the past four years. 

“Around $400bn worth of the economy is managed by the public sector and there are a million public servants but there has never really been a publication that targets them in their professional capacity,” Burton told Mumbrella.

“People write about the public sector all the time from a political and policy perspective but for us its a B2B (business to business) proposition.”

The Mandarin is understood to be focused on senior public service leadership and will aim to be a news breaker.

“We are pitching very much at the agency heads and the senior leadership, if you think about CEO magazine this is the public sector equivalent of it,” he said.

“It is going to be written from the perspective of the professional public servant but we will have news.  I’m an old school news junkie and I want it to have that feel but it will be news that is relevant to them.”

Burton cited Optus’s work last year in leading the policy debate about international roaming as a rare instance where business was effective in communicating with government. However, he argues that it too often business struggled in the space.

“Business often struggles to articulate its message in a way that can be understood in a way that cuts through for senior bureaucrats,” he said.

The new project, owned by Private Media who also runs Crikey, Smart Company, Property Observer, Women’s Agenda and a number of other websites, will be funded by subscription and advertising but also with a sponsored content section.

“The business model will be built on a metered paywall and advertising.  But from a business model perspective we hope to be able to work with business partners to help them also display their content in the site.”

The Mandarin is currently looking for editorial staff.

Nic Christensen




Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing.