AFR takes over MIS

By Philip Sim in Media News on

Fairfax is set to advertise for a new editor of MIS magazine, who will report directly to Australian Financial Review technology editor Mark Jones.

The move comes as the dust settles on the companys controversial decision to align its Fairfax Business Magazines division with its flagship business masthead, The Australian Financial Review. As well as moving to integrate the MIS and Financial Review technology editorial teams, MIS will be rebranded as an AFR magazine in the same way Boss magazine currently is, although unlike Boss, it will continue to be distributed and managed independently. FBM titles including MIS, CFO and Asset magazine would effectively become "super verticals" of The Australian Financial Review, said Fairfax Business Magazine boss Andrew Birmingham.

Birmingham denied that the divisions restructure was a cost-cutting exercise and said that all MIS editorial staff would be retained. In regard to MIS he said the move was designed to bring to bear on MIS, the reputation, expertise and discipline of The Australian Financial Review in a move that our competitor cant respond to.

Were locked in a dog fight, where two magazines dominate what we want to do is steal a march and surge ahead from those folk, Birmingham said.

However, Don Kennedy, managing director of IDG which publishes MIS primary rival CIO, claimed not to be concerned.

The readership research has shown that MIS is a stronger brand than the AFR in that community so I dont expect it to change the competitive landscape in anyway.

News of the Fairfax Business Magazine restructure surfaced last month but at that time the company declined to outline plans until it had resolved all staffing issues associated with the move.

One staffing issue now finalised is the decision by former MIS editor Tamara Plakalo not to return to the IT magazine and to continue working on the still-secret project she had been seconded to.

Her decision means the MIS editorship is now vacant and, although former-deputy editor Paul Smith has been warming the seat as acting editor in Plakalos absence, Mark Jones said it was AFR policy for all openings of this ilk to be advertised.

Jones is now effectively managing editor of both The Australian Financial Review Information team and the MIS editorial team and he confirmed he would be making the decision on the new editor, in consultation with Australian Financial Review editor Glenn Burge.

The person needs to have a solid grounding in the Australian IT user community. Id like them to also have a strong understanding of technologies and how they work and an added advantage would be the ability to network effectively and represent the magazine in public if need be, Jones said.

Its also important to understand that MIS is now part of The Fin it is a Financial Review magazine in the same way that Boss and Life and Leisure are so an additional asset to have would be an understanding of newspapers and breaking news and the potential synergies between the paper and the magazine."

Interested candidates can email Jones at mjones@afr.com.au.

With MIS editorial being integrated with The Fin, Jones said that theyll be an ongoing exchange of information and that he would expect writers from both teams to work across both titles.

That said, he stressed that MIS will continue to have its own unique content.

MIS editorial is not broken, rather its a case of looking for opportunities where [The AFR] can take advantage of MIS content and resources and vice versa, Jones said.

Birmingham said he firmly believed that MIS will be a better magazine as an Australian Financial Review magazine and said the MIS team could only benefit from working with AFR journalists, who he claimed were the best in the business.

If you look at something like the NAB IT story, at a specialist magazine you would ring a freelancer who would go out there and do the story and theyd do a good job of it but at the end of the day, the people who know implicitly the ins and outs of IT at the NAB are the journalists on The Australian Financial Review, Birmingham said.

He said that Fairfax Business Media would establish a single pool of production and sub-editing resources, of which current MIS staff would become a part of, and confirmed MIS would be taking all of its resources across.

Meanwhile MIS manager Rigney said that the realisation of synergies between The Australian Financial Review would be initiatives like co-branded events and even joint products and supplements.

This will really allow us to take things to the next level and get access to content, people and interviews that previously were perhaps not possible."

Birmingham said that three years ago, MIS was well behind CIO according to the McNair annual enterprise readership but is now statistically equal (CIO beat MIS in the latest survey but by a margin smaller than the researchs stated margin of error, giving Fairfax claim to equal leadership). These moves were designed to now vault MIS ahead of its rival, Birmingham claimed.

While Fairfax appears to be on the competition warpath, IDGs Kennedy was taking a very relaxed approach to the changes.

"MIS and CIO are both doing very well, they've both got strong readership and good advertising support, although we'd like to see more," Kennedy said. He said he was more interested in promoting the enterprise IT media market, generally, than worrying about taking market share off other magazines.

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