Cleo and Dolly merger leaves senior Australian Cleo editor Sharri Markson out of work

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Friday, November 8, 2013

Logo Bauer Media Group

Senior Editor for Australia's Cleo magazine Sharri Markson confirmed on Wednesday that she will not be competing for the role of editor between the sudden merger of Dolly and Cleo titles. The news came only days after German-based Bauer Media announced the merger of two of their most popular Australian magazines, with an expected loss of half the production staff by early next year.

The production team was informed of the merge in a staff meeting on Monday. Chief executive Matt Stanton and publisher Sebastian Kadas explained the merger process, which will see the separate mastheads continue under the one production team and half the size of the normal magazine printing dimensions.

Both current editors Sharri Markson and Tiffany Dunk, along with the entire production team, were required to re-apply for their positions and compete against one another to secure a position. However, according to The Australian, after only three days of consideration, Markson informed staff that she is not prepared to accept the role given it would mean producing two magazines with half the staff.

Former editors of both Dolly and Cleo are turning to Twitter to show support for the staff in danger of unemployment. Mia Freedman posted; "Sad for all the girls who dream of working in magazines. The dream is sadly very much over. No joy today. Thinking of Dolly & Cleo staff", and Lisa Wilkinson posting "Very sad to hear news that Dolly & Cleo magazines are merging, with expected losses of half the staff. End of an era. And a personal one ..." Wilkinson told The Sydney Morning Heald. "I just hope the magazine publishers in this country have been mentoring that new talent otherwise it simply will not work".

Bauer Media have released a statement addressing the situation, claiming to be “continually reviewing every aspect of its business, looking at new opportunities for growth and investment, whilst ensuring all divisions are working as efficiently and effectively as possible”. Bauer’s CEO who addressed the staff on Monday continued, saying "it makes sense to bring the staff creating these young women’s lifestyle titles together. The single publishing unit enables us to tap the synergies and expertise between the mastheads to further enhance the reach and relevance of these two much-loved Australian magazine brands."

The production staff along with popular media personalities are publicly questioning the efficiency of the merge, as both titles have distinctly different audiences; with Dolly aiming at teenager readers and Cleo at women in their 20s and 30s. This combined with the ever increasing stress of publishing will only maximise the pressure on the new production team. Ita Buttrose highlighted the concern, telling Crikey, "I know everybody is cost-cutting at the moment, but this seems a bit extreme. You'd have to be a very experienced, very talented editor to put out both titles. I ran the women's division at ACP Magazines, but all the titles had their own clearly defined editors. For one person to edit two magazines — that may be something they do in Germany, but it's new for me ... I'd like to see their business plan."

The move comes closely after Bauer discontinued women's magazine titles Madison and Grazia in Australia earlier this year due to continuing financial pressures.