NT News editor Rachel Hancock

Editors hold an important position in society. By shaping the news values of Australia’s major media outlets, they hold a crucial role in determining what is seen as important and what is dismissed as trivial, niche or frivolous.

In Australia, almost all the editors of major print publications are men. A 2013 analysis by academics Wendy Bacon and Jenna Price, published in New Matilda, found only one female editor at a major print masthead — Michelle Gunn at The Weekend Australian. A Crikey analysis conducted this morning has found that there’s now one more woman in the top position at a major daily. But Australia’s major metropolitian print papers, still responsible for driving the news agenda, are overwhelmingly steered by men.

Australia’s highest-selling paper, the Herald Sun, has Damon Johnston as its editor. It’s Sydney counterpart the Daily Telegraph has Paul Whittaker in the same role. The top editor at The Courier-Mail is Chris Dore, while the Adelaide Advertiser’s editorial head is Sam Weir. The Sunday Times, News Corp’s weekly Western Australian tabloid, is edited by Rod Savage. Among the major News Corp tabloids, the NT News is the only one with a woman in the top spot: Rachel Hancock has been editor there since 2013.

At Fairfax, The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald, Australian Financial Review and the Weekend AFR are all edited by men (Andrew Holden, Darren Goodsir, Michael Stutchbury and Matthew Drummond, respectively). So is The Australian (Chris Mitchell as editor-in-chief, Clive Mathieson as editor).

As in the original 2013 study, Crikey has not counted the many female editors who are in charge of, for example, a weekend edition, if that weekend edition is not counted as a separate paper by the publisher. We’ve used advertising rate cards to inform this choice.

So where does that leave the female editors? There’s Michelle Gunn at the Weekend Australian and Rachel Hancock at the NT News. Double the number there were two years ago, but progress it seems comes at a glacial pace. 

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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