Top News Corp editor departed after lewd comments towards woman

The editor-in-chief of News Corp’s national masthead The Australian left his position at the company after making lewd comments towards a woman at an event in California last month.

People briefed on the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said Chris Dore came to an agreement with senior executives at the Rupert Murdoch-controlled media company that he would leave his position after making lewd comments towards the woman at a function, which was part of The Wall Street Journal’s Tech Live conference in Laguna Beach, California. The sources said Dore had been drinking when he made the comments, which one person close to him described as “inappropriate”.

Former editor-in-chief of The Australian newspaper Chris Dore.

Former editor-in-chief of The Australian newspaper Chris Dore.Credit:Jesse Marlow

News Corp declined to respond to a list of detailed questions. Dore declined to respond to a list of questions.

Dore’s sudden resignation from the company he worked at for more than 30 years shocked other News Corp editors within the stable, who were informed on Wednesday afternoon before a statement was issued by local chairman Michael Miller and a press release was posted on The Australian’s website.

Dore, who has edited The Courier-Mail and The Daily Telegraph, took the helm of the national masthead in 2018 after its former editor-in-chief, Paul Whittaker, was promoted as chief executive of Sky News. He began his career at News Corp as a copy kid more than 30 years ago and has worked across Australia and led tabloids The Daily Telegraph and The Courier-Mail as well as The Sunday Times in Perth, when it was owned by News Corp. He began as editor-in-chief of The Australian in 2018.

In his time, subscriber numbers have grown to almost 277,000 at the end of June, up from 136,000 in mid-2018. Dore also was behind the creation of The Australian’s youth publication The Oz, which launched earlier this year but is yet to publicly disclose its performance. But he also faced criticism in his tenure, particularly for The Australian’s coverage of the national bushfire crisis. The commentary which appeared in the masthead prompted public slander from James Murdoch.

Miller said in a note that Dore was undergoing surgery this week, but current and former News Corp employees were quick to note that it did not offer any praise to the editor who has worked in almost every state and territory in the country in his time with the company.

In a note to staff last week, Dore said he was “exhausted”. He had not been seen in the office since he went to the US last month. Dore was among a group of local and international News Corp executives to attend the conference held by The Wall Street Journal, which boasted speakers including Disney CEO Bob Chapek and embattled crypto king Sam Bankman-Fried. He did not return to Australia immediately after the conference, missing the company’s annual internal awards, The News Awards, which was considered highly unusual.

“Any editor will admit the past few years have felt like dog years and as you know, I have no off-switch,” Dore said. “I am exhausted, and have recognised I can’t keep going on like this. I have long-standing personal health issues I need to resolve and am leaving News to concentrate on restoring my health.” Dore was approached for comment.

The Australian will now be edited by Michelle Gunn, who was appointed to her position in May 2020. It is unclear if a new editor-in-chief will be appointed.

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