Marketers take lead as News cuts senior editors

Jun 03, 2024 at 03:21 pm by admin

Metro and regional tabloids have been combined under a new marketing-focussed chief as part of a News Corp Australia restructuring set to save the publisher $65 million.

Former Suncorp chief marketing officer Mark Reinke (pictured) – who joined News five years ago as managing director of consumer – is the man credited with pushing subscriptions over the million line, thanks to AI, tech stacks, content bundling, UX and a paying younger set.

The leadership decision is a far cry from the days when metro editors claimed a direct line to Rupert Murdoch – much to Kim Williams’ undoing – and was disclosed to key staff while the power trio of sole chairman Lachlan Murdoch, News UK boss Rebekah Brooks and global chief Robert Thomson were in town.

It may also indicate a new way of doing business.

When Rupert was calling the shots – not that he isn’t still, notwithstanding his new marriage to retired molecular biologist Elena Zhukova, his fifth bride – print was a strong focus, with the publisher not frightened of using its massive page power to drive political direction.

Reinke’s focus at News has been somewhat different, and has included puzzle, mindfulness and wagering sites, and strong support for its globally-successful crime podcasts, of which a new series was launched this week. He’s also backed “younger readers’ Australian” The Oz.

The new view is also apparent in other appointments and changes: Client product lead Pippa Leary takes charge of News’ free news and lifestyle mastheads, where Sunday Telegraph editor Mick Carroll becomes the division’s editor-in-chief, and two former tabloid editors, John McGourty and Peter Blunden are headed for the door. Leary (pictured right with national sales director Lou Barrett) was a major player during the recent D-Coded marketing event, when News announced new audience intelligence capabilities, using AI tech and advanced data collaboration.

McGourty was group director of News’ editorial innovation centre, while Blunden is a former managing director of Victorian publishing division the Herald and Weekly Times, and currently national executive editor. He will take on a “part-time advisory” position.

Also on the way out is Lisa Muxworthy, editor-in-chief of the free site and credited with driving it to become the most read news site in Australia.

Masthead editors-in-chief and editors – including Ben English (Sydney), Queensland editor Chris Jones (Queensland) and Sam Weir (Victoria) get wider responsibilities across the portfolio.

A total approaching 100 redundancies are expected, as News restructures business into three divisions, removing the roles of several senior editorial executives and centralising power along national lines.

In an email to staff, executive chairman Australasia Michael Miller thanked “colleagues for their contribution and professionalism” and pledged to minimise impacts “as much as possible”, treating them “with the utmost of respect.

“As we are now living at a time when the way news and information is created and consumed is changing faster than it has ever changed, we too must continue to evolve.”

National daily The Australian – currently celebrating its sixtieth anniversary – becomes part of a prestige mastheads division, which also includes its upmarket newspaper-inserted magazine Wish (from which David Meagher left last year), the local edition of Vogue, and The List. The division will be headed by Nicholas Gray, with Australian editor-in-chief Michelle Gunn taking editorial responsibility.

Not, apparently, impacted by the restructuring are two companies of which News is majority – but not outright – owner, online real estate company REA Group (public company), and Foxtel (which it owns with Telstra).

Simultaneously with the changes, News has announced new video content, starting in Sydney with a platform called DTTV for Daily Telegraph subscribers. Its breaking news, analysis, information and entertainment content will include a daily 5@5 Bulletin, offering five stories in five minutes at 5pm and hosted by journalist and former 2GB producer James Willis.

Editor Ben English is calling it “the single-biggest change to how his newsroom delivers all the stories that matter”.

Peter Coleman

Sections: Digital business


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