Australian Newsagents’ Federation CEO Rayma Creswell has tendered her resignation from the ANF over a dispute between the ANF and the state associations of NSW and QLD.

In the resignation announcement to newsagents, the ANF is indicating that it will walk away from the agreed unity between the bodies, leaving newsagents with conflicted direction in the navigation of several key issues including the extension of contracts with News Ltd for the distribution of its newspapers.

As The Oz reports this morning:

Ms Creswell blamed her departure on the recalcitrance of the state bodies representing NSW and Queensland, and called on newsagents in those states to demand accountability from their leadership.

The state associations in NSW and Queensland “have absolutely no intention whatsoever of working towards a national outcome or to a national strategy,” she said. “They are putting the livelihood of newsagents at risk without any care or responsibility, to make themselves look busy … and protect their little power bases.”

While some newsagents are happy for the ANF to walk away from the state associations and thereby keep Creswell in her role, others want the ANF to honour its agreement and deliver on the unity announced with much fanfare earlier this year.

According to The Oz, “Creswell joined the ANF in February last year with the goal of uniting the fractured industry under one body. For a time she managed to broker an uneasy peace. In May the QNF, NANA and the Victorian Authorised Newsagents Association, which together represent about 2,000 newsagents, signed a memorandum of understanding to unify under the ANF banner for three years. But the fragile coalition has been broken by a brawl over the renewal of territorial distribution agency agreements with Australia’s biggest newspaper publisher, News Limited…”

The entrails of the all-out brawl are spread all over the Oct 30 edition of the Australian Newsagents’ Federation Newsletter:

…Why do NANA & QNF continue to ignore the wishes of grass roots newsagents who have demanded that they be represented by a single national body?

Newsagents deserve better – and to quote from Ms Creswell’s resignation letter, “Newsagents I feel very sorry for because they do not deserve the appalling representation they receive. Unfortunately the apathy and the misinformation that is spread combine to make this job untenable.”

The road to unified national representation of newsagents has been long and rocky. Every day that the national and state associations continue to brawl is another day of opportunity to those who compete with newsagents, like petrol stations. The communication from the ANF could have been more professionally written and therefore more likely to be read and digested.

The ANF and state associations have signed agreements which detail how they are to co-exist. Newsagents would be well-served if all parties adhered to the agreements. In the meantime, the ANF Board could consider hiring a CEO with solid national association experience.

Mark Fletcher writes regularly on Australian Newsagency Blog.