Media giant News Corporation Australia is considering disciplinary action against a senior editor from its flagship masthead The Australian after an internal investigation verified allegations of misconduct at Christmas drinks last month.
The senior editor has engaged lawyers and issued a legal letter to the Rupert Murdoch-controlled media company, after women employed by the masthead filed complaints about his physical and verbal conduct at after-work event in Surry Hills.
News Corp, which also owns The Daily Telegraph, The Herald Sun, and The Courier-Mail, investigated the allegations before Christmas and found them to be true, according to people familiar with the matter who spoke anonymously for fear of retribution. The sources said the senior editor wrote to News Corp before December 31.
A News Corp spokesman said it did not comment on staff matters. But when asked about the investigation last month, a News Corp spokesman said: “A thorough investigation is underway after complaints were made following an informal end-of-year function. No conclusion has yet been reached and our priority is for the fair treatment and well-being of all those involved.”
The investigation into the senior editor’s conduct has occurred amid a series of changes at The Australian, including the announcement of its first woman editor-in-chief, Michelle Gunn late last week. Gunn’s position will be overseen by a newly formed editorial board, led by The Australian’s former editor-in-chief, Paul Whittaker, who is now chief executive of Sky News Australia – a move that sparked controversy inside and outside of the news organisation.
The complaint against the senior editor is the third time in a matter of months News Corp has dealt with allegations of inappropriate behaviour at a function. This masthead revealed in November that The Australian’s editor-in-chief Christopher Dore departed the company over lewd comments made towards a woman at an event in the US. In mid-December, Sky News host Chris Smith was terminated over his behaviour towards several women at an event after the 24-hour news channel’s Christmas party.
News Corp has remained silent on the circumstances regarding Dore’s exit, attributing it to a “health issue”. The departure of Smith played out publicly and was scrutinised by his two employers, Sky News and 2GB, whose parent company Nine Entertainment Co owns this masthead.
The incident at The Australian’s Christmas party prompted an email to all staff by News Corp Australia executive chairman Michael Miller with a blunt warning: “Remember that inappropriate behaviour has consequences.”
“As we approach the end of the year, formal and informal parties and team gatherings are rolling in and as we anticipate those events I want to say something as plainly as possible,” he said. “Do not let a bad choice you make at a party undermine all the good you have achieved.”
Source: Thanks smh.com