Actor Rebel Wilson (Image: AAP/Darcy Hemley/BAFTA)
Actor Rebel Wilson (Image: AAP/Darcy Hemley/BAFTA)

An anonymous Nine employee has emailed staff saying that the company’s “reputation is trashed”, citing the Sydney Morning Herald’s Rebel Wilson “outing” incident as the latest in a list of “disastrous” decisions.

On Monday afternoon, an email was sent out from a “Staff Reporter” email account with the subject line “A note on our newsroom” to editorial staff across some of the former Fairfax publications.

The email, obtained by Crikey from multiple sources, lambasts Nine’s editorial decisions, ongoing enterprise bargaining agreement negotiations, and management.

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It begins by tying SMH’s handling of an attempt to break a story about Rebel Wilson’s same-sex relationship with editor Bevan Shield’s decision to wrongly label the NSW government’s shutdown a “strike”.

“In March, with the ‘strike’ fiasco, we were a national laughingstock — but now we’ve attracted international attention,” the email reads.

The author, who identifies themselves as having worked at SMH, clarifies that this email is about the accumulation of decisions that have affected staff and not about the author of the Rebel Wilson piece, Andrew Hornery. 

The email goes on to describe staff being unable to speak freely on social media about being “tarred with the same brush as the editor” for fear of being disciplined or fired. 

It criticises a refusal to give staff a pay increase to keep salaries in line with inflation, as well as six-week rosters and automatic progression for younger staff. 

The email also quotes Nine’s director of publishing, James Chessell, as saying that defamation costs were part of the reason for rejecting staff’s requests. The author calls this a “hard pill to swallow” in light of Nine’s defamation payout to Clementine Ford over comments made by SMH and The Age executive editor Tory Maguire.

“Tory doesn’t have to beg for a pay rise. People like us, who never have defamed anyone, are left to suffer,” the email says.

“Our reputation is trashed. Management silence us on social media and treat our audience with contempt. And we’re not even paid in line with inflation. What’s the point?” 

Earlier in the afternoon, Hornery published a piece apologising for his weekend column where he criticised Wilson for having “gazumped” him by going public with her relationship after he had contacted her for comment. 

Less than 24 hours after writing a note defending the paper’s coverage, Shields tweeted out Hornery’s piece: “The Herald made mistakes over Rebel Wilson, and will learn from them.”

Update: This article erroneously stated the “Staff Reporter” email account was an internal account.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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