The announcement by brand-new WA Newspapers CEO Chris Wharton that Bob Cronin is to be the editor-in-chief will place further pressure on editor Paul Armstrong.

Wharton has been the successful head of Kerry Stokes’ top-performing Channel Seven in Perth, while Cronin, a former editor-in-chief of WAN, has been a Stokes newspaper consultant for several years.

Both men will bring to the company vast media experience, which has been sorely lacking in recent years, as readers and experienced journalists alike deserted flagship publication The West Australian.

It surely must be a matter of when, rather than whether, Armstrong will either resign or be sacked. A new broom is sweeping through the organisation, and the editor is the most prominent part of the debris that has damaged the reputation of The West.

The Australian‘s WA editor Tony Barrass has luanched an all-out assault on Armstrong over the past week. It’s an interesting shift in tactics by Barrass, who previously had been reticent to publically criticise Armstrong, with whom he worked at The West.

As a prominent journalist who knows WA exceedingly well, Barrass would have to be on the short list for Armstrong’s position.

Barrass has again highlighted the well-known distribution problems that the new administration will have to quickly resolve. Saturday’s West poses a major problem with its two-part format requiring separate wrapping and fence throwing.

But lateness off the press also poses a problem, especially if, like our household, you get both The West and The Oz delivered daily. If The West‘s late off the press, both are late getting delivered. If you complain to the newsagent, he bluntly suggests you take it up with The West.

Along with a new editor, Wharton and Cronin will no doubt be looking to recruit new staff. The paper needs an injection of talented writers and an overhaul of its supplements, which are generally tired and boring. Wharton’s comments so far have been promising in this respect.

Health, for example, offers great potential for well-researched, investigative pieces, but The West‘s health insert is generally derivative and repetitious.

The new team would also need to take a serious look at its stable of columnists, including former editor Paul Murray who still plays a dominant role. Murray’s reputation took a battering over his erroneous finding of the HMS Sydney story, which not only tarnished the reputation of The West but also the Fairfax papers that ran with the story.

With the journalistic reputations of both The West and the Fairfax dailies at a low ebb, perhaps Stokes, Wharton, Cronin et al will need to re-assess the value of the business relationship between the two companies.