Karl Stefanovic’s extravagant wedding was timed almost to the day of his employer Nine’s marriage with former newspaper publisher Fairfax Media. But the new partnership didn’t win Stefanovic’s new colleagues at The Sydney Morning Herald or The Age any special access to his clickbait-friendly big day.

Instead, News Corp’s papers had the exclusive for their Sunday front pages, featuring quotes from the bride, Jasmine Yarbrough, on why she’s marrying the Today host, her hopes for the four-day wedding celebration in Mexico, and the proposal. The tabloid papers today quote from the ceremony, with a joint byline to Daily Telegraph gossip columnist Jonathon Moran and US correspondent Sarah Blake, from the location.

By comparison, the gossip in the Herald about the wedding is decidedly more sceptical — columnist Andrew Hornery’s report of the ceremony opened with reference to the bride being upset and groom “frustrated” on the morning of the wedding.

The wedding tops off a whopping year in the public eye for Stefanovic — breathless reporting of his nuptials and relationship, updates on his ex-wife Cassandra Thorburn’s life and career, dismal ratings at Today, and reported tension with co-host Georgie Gardner (not to mention that Uber ride).

Among the speculation as to Stefanovic’s future on Nine’s breakfast program comes The Australian’s glowing profile today of his stand-in host Brenton Ragless. Citing a “no dickheads” policy at Nine for on-air talent, the Oz reports that Ragless is a contender to replace Stefanovic permanently: “The Adelaide newsreader is widely perceived at Nine as the very antithesis of the classic, Stefanovic-style network celebrity from Central Casting.”

Stefanovic has been confirmed as Today host for 2019, but speculation continues as to whether he’ll still have the job if ratings don’t pick up.

Today’s ratings is just one of many things on Nine’s agenda for 2019. Today is the first day the publications formerly trading under the Fairfax Media brand have published as Nine mastheads. 

The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald both dedicated their editorials today to the change, both emphasising that they would continue to prioritise independent journalism under their new corporate owner. One of the biggest concerns about Nine’s takeover of the Fairfax papers is the impact it could have on Fairfax’s independence.

In an email to his staff on Friday, Nine CEO Hugh Marks marked the completion of the merger process. “In the media landscape, we become Australia’s largest locally owned media company, evolved from two of the great heritage brands, Fairfax and Nine, who have served our community with the best entertainment, content, sport and news journalism for decades,” he said.

He said Nine’s mission was to create and distribute “great content”, saying that could be in the form of “a TV show like The Block which draws millions of viewers every night and captures water cooler discussion, or it can be ground-breaking journalism such as Adele Ferguson’s reporting of banking malpractice that drives community discussion on both a national and local level and forces the sector to reform”.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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