Over the last few days I have been having some back and forth email correspondence with News Limited’s Director of Corporate Affairs, Greg Baxter, concerning my reporting of the plans to change the way News Limited produces its features.
The correspondence mainly concerns his complaints and my responses, but it has also included a few things that add to the material on the public record.
I asked him if I could publish the correspondence in full – my preference. That’s not going to happen, but I do have permission to add a few tidbits to what is known.
Baxter says that It is “nonsense” to say that the new national features editor, Alan Oakley, has been given two weeks to plan the rationalisation. “Oakley won’t have even been to meet with all the print and online editors in his first two weeks.”
From this I surmise (though without confirmation from Baxter) that implementation of the changes is some way off.
Additionally, Baxter denies that the plan is to create syndicated features with slight changes, as reported by both me and The Age.
(More recently, the Australian Financial Review 30 Seconds column asserted yesterday that the plan was to “merge the features sections of News Ltd’s tabloid papers…to create a national section”.)
Baxter says details of News Limited’s plans are not being given out so as not to tip off competitors.
Baxter repeats previous assertions that the production of features is not moving to Sydney and that there is “no plan that envisages we don’t have features staff in Melbourne.” He also says – and I think this is the first time this specific assurance has been given – that Melbourne based features staff are not going to be relocated to Sydney.
It should be said that some of this contradicts accounts by News Limited insiders of what they have been told internally. But Baxter says that what others say they have been told is wrong.