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    Remembering Judith Whelan: Held top editorial roles at Fairfax and ABC TV & radio

    The ABC and The Sydney Morning Herald is today paying tribute to Judith Whelan. As a journalist, she was the editor of The Sydney Morning Herald for a time. Later she worked as an ABC executive. Whelan has died aged 62 after a long battle with cancer.

    The newspaper she once edited reported: Whelan died at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital surrounded by husband Christopher Henning, daughter Sophia and son Patrick. She had been battling cancer for several years.

    Herald editor Bevan Shields said Whelan was adored by the newsroom.

    “Judith was a wonderful editor, colleague and friend,” he said. “She was at the Herald for more than three decades and remains part of our DNA. We are heartbroken by her death.

    “She had a finely tuned news radar but also revelled in journalism that could entertain and inform readers. She was a natural leader and a beautiful person. Our thoughts are with Chris, Sophia and Patrick.”

    Lisa Davies, the Herald editor between 2017 and 2021, said Whelan had “journalism in her veins”.

    Whelan edited Good Weekend for seven years before first editing the flagship Saturday edition of The Sydney Morning Herald, later moving up to edit the weekday newspaper.

    See also: Judith Whelan, former Herald editor and ABC executive, remembered as a trailblazer for women

    Remembering Judith Whelan: Held top editorial roles at Fairfax and ABC TV & radio

    Former SMH editors Amanda Wilson, Lisa Davies and Judith Whelan pictured in 2021 to mark the Herald’s 190th birthday. Photo: James Brickwood/The SMH

    The ABC has noted Whelan was first appointed director, Regional and Local before moving to the ABC editorial director role in 2022.

    Mediaweek profiled Whelan toward the end of 2021. It coincided with her being included in the first Mediaweek 100 Power List.

    ABC’s former head of radio Michael Mason brought Judith Whelan into the organisation originally as head of spoken word networks.

    Speaking to Mediaweek about the change of sectors, Judith Whelan admitted she started “on a steep learning curve”.

    Michelle Guthrie was ABC managing director at the time and shortly after Whelan arrived the broadcaster was restructured from platforms into genres. Whelan was given a role as head of specialist which included Radio National (RN) and TV and radio programming covering arts, science, health & technology, religion, education, and included podcasting which grew significantly under Whelan.

    After Michael Mason left the ABC, Whelan was first appointed acting head of regional and local, before being appointed permanently. That role oversaw the eight ABC capital city flagship radio stations, 48 rural and regional bureaus plus regional and local TV content. The role also included sport across all platforms and live events like ABC’s highest-rating TV program, the New Year’s Eve celebrations and fireworks coverage.

    See also: How ABC’s regional and local head Judith Whelan and the team cover Australia

    ABC - Judith Whelan

    Judith Whelan

    ABC managing director David Anderson paid tribute to Whelan and confirmed her death on Wednesday.

    He said she was “loved and respected across the ABC, especially by our radio and regional teams”.

    “We have lost a great friend and journalism has lost a true fighter,” he said.

    “Judith always had the instincts that made her such a formidable journalist. She carried with her a commitment to truth and accountability and instilled these values in those who worked with her.

    “A valued mentor to younger journalists, Judith nurtured while leading by example. Judith was tough but caring and wanted those around her to succeed. Young reporters knew Judith would champion their work if the story needed to be told.”

    See also: Media executive Judith Whelan remembered as ‘true fighter’ for journalism by ABC, Sydney Morning Herald colleagues

    The post Remembering Judith Whelan: Held top editorial roles at Fairfax and ABC TV & radio appeared first on Mediaweek.

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