Matthews' Fairfax departure surprises experts

Matthews' Fairfax departure surprises experts

Media experts have reacted with surprise to the news that Metro Media chief Jack Matthews (pictured) will leave Fairfax Media as part of the group's massive leadership shake-up announced this morning.

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Matthews, who has worked at Fairfax for seven years, will be joined out the exit door by Australian Regional Publishing head Allan Brown, as five of the group’s existing executive leadership team roles are reduced to three.

One media agency executive, who declined to be named, said they were surprised by Matthews’ departure, given his pedigree in the digital space.

They added: “I think the reshuffle was kind of inevitable. With the migration of revenues from newspaper to digital it’s clear that’s where publishers have to improve.

“I am surprised about Jack Matthews. He was responsible for digital when he first came to Fairfax, and was given that is the structure they are moving to I would have assumed he would have been the right man to lead.”

Steve Allen, chief executive of Fusion Strategy, agreed that it was a surprise to see Matthews depart, but admitted that it could be a case of his job being done leading Fairfax’s move from physical to digital product.

"He has really been at the epicenter of all the changes that have gone on there, particularly the move from physical to digital product,” said Allen.

In a statement, Fairfax CEO Greg Hywood, said: It’s a different from the place Jack joined seven years ago and Jack has driven the change".

Allen has described Matthews as “one of those guys that hasn’t been all fire and brimstone" as a leader of change, "he has seemed more methodical”.

Allen has also offered his full backing to the massive restructure taking place at Fairfax.  

"The fact they want to streamline the business and are slimming their executive ranks is a practical answer to the revenue situation they face now and into future," he said.

“It’s typical of Greg Hywood’s leadership… we’re supporters of what he’s doing."