Today Cirrus Media made all but one of the Medical Observer print editorial team redundant, ending an era in healthcare media.
Medical Observer (MO) has been the close number two weekly newspaper to market leader Australian Doctor for its 30 years or so of existence. In that time the two papers battled it out for readership supremacy, and MO was never far behind.
But that battle started to unravel about two years ago when Cirrus, under private equity firm Catalyst, acquired MO, initially with plans to have the two papers continue their competition.
Those plans were scrapped soon after long time CEO Jeremy Knibbs left Cirrus last July and management started merging the editorial and sales teams and introducing cost-saving measures such as inserting MO into Australian Doctor without telling clients.
In the past few weeks Cirrus healthcare sales people had been out spruiking an “exciting new relaunch” of MO as a monthly A4 title with a “weekender” type feel.
Commenting on the move, Jeremy Knibbs, who now runs a new medical newspaper, The Medical Republic, that competes with both titles said:
“Medical Observer was a great title and the competition over the years is what kept Australian Doctor and MO strong. Cirrus seems obsessed with the idea that print is dead so they seem to have taken the cynical path of ripping costs out of it and taking the profit rather than trying to keep that competitive tension alive.
“I feel for the MO team. Jennifer Cooke, the editor, was one of the most passionate and committed journos I’ve ever met. She loved the job and she did a great job.
“I don’t think Cirrus has got it right. You give your audience what they want, and in the medical market doctors still love reading the newspapers. One day that might change and of course digital is an increasingly vital part of the marketing mix.
“But forcing it for what looks like a private-equity sale agenda which says you need to focus nearly wholly on digital, is narrow minded and ignores the customer. ”
Jeremy Knibbs is still a significant shareholder in Cirrus Media. The Misfits Media, which own B&T, also publishes The Medical Republic newspaper of which Mr Knibbs is publisher.