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Hunt for new editor lifts benchmark

WESTERN Australia’s dominant media player The West Australian newspaper has advertised nationally for a new editor following the departure of Brian Rogers, who surprised the industry recently by resigning just six months into a two-year contract.

WA Newspapers managing director Ian Law said the company had decided against employing an executive search firm to find external candidates for what should be the top job in the State’s media.

“In a relatively small industry the key people are aware of the situation,” Mr Law said.

He added that he had already received expressions of interest from some very strong candidates outside the company and it was not a case of simply seeking someone from Rural Press, the company he left more than a year ago to head WAN.

Mr Law said WAN was seeking an editor who could produce a modern mass circulation newspaper to industry best practice. To this end, he did not rule out internal applicants in the search for a new editorial leader.

Both The West’s acting editor Karen Brown and business editor Paul Armstrong have received attention in the national press as possible replacements for Mr Rogers.

But an appointment is not expected soon and the absence of a permanent editor does not appear to have dented the share price of the WA media giant.

“Given the calibre of our internal editorial executives I feel we don’t need to make a rush decision,” Mr Law said.

While he would not be drawn on the characteristics required by the editor he was looking for, Mr Law said applicants would be measured against circulation and readership benchmarks.

The newspaper has struggled in this area, particularly mid-week.

Current WAN top-level management has made no secret of its benchmark-driven analysis of operations and Mr Law said his team has had 12 months to measure all aspects of the company within that annual cycle.

While Mr Law would not discuss Mr Rogers’ departure, he denied speculation that redundancies had been planned in editorial.

However, he would also not comment on whether the editorial department met the benchmarks his management team had established.

“I will not be drawn on that,” Mr Law said.

“It is an issue for constant review.”

It is a response that reflects his benchmarking approach to the company’s operations.

“It is an ongoing process,” he said of the media group as a whole.

“I don’t think there is any big bang, magic bullet solution.”

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