by Karl du Fresne from his blog

Stuff has announced the appointment of a new editor for the Dominion Post. Caitlin Cherry will replace Anna Fifield, who is returning to the Washington Post as its Asia-Pacific editor.

Cherry, who will start in February, has spent most of her career with RNZ in behind-the-scenes roles on news and current affairs programmes, including Morning Report and Nine to Noon. She currently has the title of Head of Content at Consumer NZ.

What’s most striking about her appointment is that judging by her LinkedIn profile, she has never worked for a daily newspaper – in fact appears to have no print experience of any sort. Yet she’s taking over the leadership of what used to be one of the country’s most influential mastheads.

This could be a move so bold and visionary that its brilliance isn’t immediately obvious. On the other hand it could be just plain dumb.

It could be interpreted as confirmation that Stuff isn’t really interested in print and possibly regards it as a dinosaur medium in the digital era. The company has often given the impression, intentionally or otherwise, that it regards its newspapers as an encumbrance.

Alternatively the appointment could be taken as yet another indication that Stuff doesn’t have a clue what it’s doing. When a puzzled former colleague of mine asked whether anyone knew what the company’s overall strategy was, the only answer I could think of was “slow-motion suicide”. But I hope my bleak assessment is wrong — because for all Stuff’s missteps, hundreds of journalists still depend on it for a living. 

Ms Fifield (see earlier posts) has only lasted a bit over two years in her role with Ms Boucher’s company — has the latter indicated a forthcoming pay cut? Or is Ms Fifield apprehensive about the company’s longevity? Whichever, it won’t be concern over the company’s unethical and untruthful behaviour; the Washington Post is no better. —Eds