With the resignation of editor Robert Whitehead, the race has begun for the role of The Sydney Morning Herald’s new editor. And it’s a crowded track, as Fairfax looks both inside and outside its organisation for a possible candidate. Let’s take a look at the field.

The current front-runner would have to be Whitehead’s immediate stand-in, Mark Scott. As the editor-in-chief of metropolitan, regional and community newspapers for Fairfax, Scott is an obvious choice. The move would be an easy one, and word has it the role would be far more fulfilling than his current position, which some say has him twiddling his thumbs.

Another name that’s getting a lot of mileage is The Australian’s European correspondent, Peter Wilson. Wilson was also rumoured to be among the frontrunners for the top job at The Age, before it was handed to Andrew Jaspan. But Crikey has heard he’s first in line for a top job at The Oz, which according to some rumours may become available sooner rather than later. With some trepidation we put in the call to Wilson at 1:30am London time, and though he didn’t mind taking the call he was tight-lipped when it came to the question of which plum job he’s about to snare.

Then there’s Lis Sterel, the current managing editor of news at the SMH, which effectively makes her Whitehead’s second in charge. She’s one of the paper’s most experienced hands, and Crikey hears she’s hands-on in coordinating the nuts and bolts of the daily task of getting the paper out. We hear the only thing stopping Sterel would be her own reticence to take on such a demanding role.

Also within the current SMH line-up is Tom Burton, an executive editor who’s currently overseeing the paper’s numerous sections. He’s a union heavyweight and married to fellow SMH reporter Anne Davies.

Other names getting a run at the back of the pack are Gerard Noonan, who remains at the SMH after a stint as the paper’s education editor and before that, editor of the Fin Review, and Philip McLean, editor of the SMH’s Sunday edition, The Sun-Herald.

If you have any tips on who’s in the running, email [email protected].

Peter Fray

Get your first 12 weeks of Crikey for $12.

Without subscribers, Crikey can’t do what it does. Fortunately, our support base is growing.

Every day, Crikey aims to bring new and challenging insights into politics, business, national affairs, media and society. We lift up the rocks that other news media largely ignore. Without your support, more of those rocks – and the secrets beneath them — will remain lodged in the dirt.

Join today and get your first 12 weeks of Crikey for just $12.


Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey