News Corp staff still in the dark over top editor’s exit

Staff at Rupert Murdoch’s The Australian newspaper have been left in the dark about the exit of former editor-in-chief Chris Dore, as workplace experts said employers must be transparent about the true reasons for departures of senior company figures.

Dore, the most senior editor at Murdoch’s News Corp in Australia, suddenly stepped down as editor-in-chief of its broadsheet The Australian last week. A company email, and statements from both Dore and News Corp’s Australian chief, Michael Miller, initially attributed his exit to exhaustion and health issues. But this masthead revealed on Sunday that Dore had left after making lewd remarks to a woman at a function in California in October.

Chris Dore’s exit sparked rampant speculation inside News Corp, which has not abated with the company refusing to comment on reports about the reason for his departure.

Chris Dore’s exit sparked rampant speculation inside News Corp, which has not abated with the company refusing to comment on reports about the reason for his departure.Credit:Jesse Marlow

News Corp has refused to say why the incident was not disclosed to employees and staff at the masthead say they were not told anything on Monday after the report. “It’s been radio silence,” one said, speaking on condition of anonymity to protect their employment.

The company’s initial explanation for Dore’s departure triggered immediate disbelief among staff who feared that his leaving may have presaged job cuts or other changes at the masthead.

Another Australian staff member said Dore’s departure was a blow to a newspaper that had already suffered repeated budget cuts and redundancies. “There’s no doubt that morale has been smashed by all the cuts,” the person said, also on condition of anonymity.

Dore had worked at News Corp for more than 30 years, holding some of the most senior editorial positions in Australia and was chairman of its internal editorial board. He had not been in its Sydney office for weeks before his departure was announced, leading some at The Australian to believe he was in line for a promotion to run the company’s flagship US title The Wall Street Journal, which also recently replaced its top editor.

University of Sydney professor Catharine Lumby, a culture and communications expert, said the lack of clarity about the exit of a senior figure at any company was unfortunate because it sparked speculation. “It’s poor management practice not to be clearer about the reasons within legal limits,” Lumby said.

In additional general comments, Lumby said it was essential for organisations, especially in the historically male-dominated media industry, to clearly state their workplaces rules and standards.

“As a former full-time journalist, one of the things that struck me in the 80s and the 90s was the lack of rules and standards in workplace culture, the lack of which often affected young journalists,” Lumby said.

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