With Alan Oakley moving on to edit The SMH, two candidates have emerged as front-runners to move in to The Sunday Age chair – Simon Mann, the perennial deputy at The Age who was passed over for Andrew Jaspan and another senior Age editor Paul Ramadge.

Mann
is apparently only prepared to take it on if he won’t be reporting to
Jaspan. Mann is popular, so such an appointment would undoubtedly create
a deluge of hacks from the daily lining up to join him on the Sunday.

Jaspan
and Oakley might both be English but they are not believed to have got
on too well, so both are happy to be seeing less of each other with
Oakley’s move to Sydney.

But you have got to wonder about the Fairfax selection process. How can Oakley not even be on the shortlist for The Age job in 2004, yet a year later he is deemed the best candidate to edit the company’s flagship publication in Sydney?

The answer is that Mark Scott largely ran The Age process in 2004, but then Brian Evans was brought back from New Zealand and appointed chief operating officer so he ran The SMH process, even though former All Black captain David Kirk had been announced as CEO in August.

Oakley had also put some more runs on the board at The Sunday Age over the past year. Given that Oakley had experience editing Australia’s biggest selling Sunday paper, The Sunday Telegraph, the biggest selling daily, the Herald Sun, and the biggest selling regional, The Newcastle Herald, it’s odd that he wasn’t seriously considered for The Age.

Can
anyone else in Australia claim Oakley’s record of editing five titles
in three cities? Frank Devine and David Armstrong are up there if you
include overseas titles but Mark Day is the only one to go close
domestically. Day edited The Sunday Mail in Adelaide, The Truth, The Daily Mirror, The Australian, Australian Playboy and Australian Penthouse – which is quite a record, but not quite up with Oakley once he gets TheSMH under his belt next month.

Peter Fray

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