Gunn 'swimming upstream' as Australian's first female editor

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Michelle Gunn has added editorship of The Australian to her responsibilities, becoming the first woman to do so since Rupert Murdoch launched the masthead in 1964.

It's a symptom of News Corp's growing focus that her predecessor, John Lehmann moves to a new commercial and consumer revenue role.

Last Friday, executive chairman Michael Miller announced a raft of staff changes mostly to do with taking the company to a more digital and content-orientated future. Gunn, however, is delighted with her new print-and-digital role, which expands the position she has held at the Weekend Australian with the editorship of Australia's last remaining broadsheets.

She says communication and flexibility have actually improved while staff have been working remotely, resulting in "better ideas and sharper news angles".

Weighing into the influence debate from the start, she told her own newspaper today its role in national debate was "often wilfully misunderstood".

"The values of the paper are not conservative values, in that traditional cultural political sense,'' she told a reporter. "The Australian is more properly characterised as a radical in national debate - because what we've been about, since 1964, is challenging orthodoxies, swimming upstream, questioning authority, and we can cite a lot of examples of that."

She entered newsmedia as an 18-year-old copy girl at News Limited's Holt Street, Surry Hills, offices after "interrupting" a communications degree for the opportunity. A "long apprenticeship" passed more quickly when she was spotted by then editor-in-chief Frank Devine and offered a cadetship. Time as social affairs editor, on the newsdesk and as national chief of staff were followed by appointment as deputy editor and then editor of the Weekend Australian.

Under her stewardship, editor-in-chief of the Australian Christopher Dore says the weekend title had grown from great to world-class: "So I can say with conviction that she will be exceptional as new editor.

Helen Trinca, managing editor for the past eight years, will become associate editor of The Australian and continue as editor of its The Deal magazine.

Pictured: Michelle Gunn collects the News Brand of the Year award for the Weekend Australian in Sydney in 2018

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