Economy

Fairfax chief executive David Kirk the latest to go in media turmoil

SmartCompany /

Fairfax Media chief executive David Kirk has resigned and will be replaced by notorious cost-cutter Brian McCarthy in the latest shake-up at Australia’s second largest newspaper publisher.

Fairfax Media chief executive David Kirk has resigned and will be replaced by notorious cost-cutter Brian McCarthy in the latest shake-up at Australia’s second largest newspaper publisher.

Kirk’s departure – after three years at the helm – came just one day after Sydney Morning Herald editor Alan Oakly was dumped.

Fairfax Media is in the midst of a talent exodus following the company’s decision in August to axe 550 jobs in Australia and New Zealand, including 165 editorial jobs.

Kirk said he was immensely proud of Fairfax and described the group as being “advanced on local and international peers in adapting the business to the modern digital world”.

But Fairfax has been heavily criticised for its online strategy and particularly its decision to lock up most of its Australian Financial Review content for subscribers only.

Kirk’s resignation caps off a tumultuous week in the Australian media industry. Earlier this week, West Australian Newspapers chief executive Ken Steinke and chairman Peter Mansell resigned suddenly, shocking many commentators and analysts.

It is expected the pair’s depature will open the way for Seven Network chief Kerry Stokes – who holds 22.3% of WAN’s stock – to join the board and have greater influence over the company.

Brian McCarthy, the former chief executive of Rural Press, joined Fairfax in 2007 after Rural Press was acquired by Fairfax. While his position is officially temporary, he looks certain to be confirmed as full-time chief executive at a meeting of the Fairfax board next week.

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