Leadership change issue for printed AFR

When readers opened the Australian Financial Review Magazine’s annual Power List on Friday they were surprised to find Tony Abbott was still the most powerful man in Australia.

It was because on the night of Malcolm Turnbull’s overthrow of the Prime Minister, the 84-page issue was already printed and waiting to be bound at Hannanprint’s Sydney factory.

“One of the senior editors came over to me and said ‘well you’re fucked aren’t you’ and explained there was a leadership challenge,” editor Katrina Strickland recalls in a video on the AFR’s website.

“We contacted the printers and found out that the entire magazine had been printed but not bound.”

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The unfortunate timing highlights the limitations of print in a world where news is available up to the minute online, and newspaper budgets are stretched thin by falling sales.

Instead of reprinting the whole magazine, at a cost of perhaps more than $30,000 for its 65,000 circulation, a four-page insert was added with an updated list. The cover had also not yet gone to press and so was updated to reflect unfolding events.

AFR has faced considerable criticism for not reprinting the issue, leading to Strickland writing a comment on media website Mumbrella pleading its case and denying the decision was cost-driven.

“We would have missed today’s deadline if we had done the entire thing again and there are other magazines inserted into the AFR on most other Fridays of the month,” she says.

“If we’d reprinted for next Friday, which we considered, we would have had to go to print before the Turnbull Cabinet was announced, risking making that issue out of date also.

“As it was, we had a day to turn around a new cover and new insert and retain it in today’s paper.”

Strickland also argues leaving the list and its commentary as is ‘painted a fascinating picture of the challenges and concerns that led to the leadership coup’.

“The essays and lists told a really interesting story about power in the year just gone, which is what our Power issue always analyses. We thought their analysis of Tony Abbott’s final year worthwhile reading – and as it turned out, highly prescient,” she says.

ProPrint hopes it is not faced with a similar set of circumstances for its own Power 50 list, voting for which opens later this week.

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