Bevan Shields named as editor of the Sydney Morning Herald

The Sydney Morning Herald and Age’s European correspondent Bevan Shields has been appointed editor of the 190-year-old Sydney masthead.

Shields, 36, replaces Lisa Davies, who resigned abruptly last month after five years in the role.

The SMH deputy editor, Cosima Marriner, who has been running the paper since Davies’ departure, will be his deputy.

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Shields, who started off as a health reporter for the Illawarra Mercury before joining the Herald, was federal editor and Canberra bureau chief for the mastheads before a two-year stint in Europe.

The executive editor of the Sydney Morning Herald and the Age, Tory Maguire, said Shields was an “exceptionally talented journalist and editor” who understood the history of the masthead.

“The Herald’s foundation is the decades of agenda-setting, independent journalism produced by its newsroom,” Maguire said.

Related: Sydney Morning Herald editor Lisa Davies resigns after five years in the role

“Bevan has proven to be an expert at journalism with impact, both as a reporter and as the leader of the metros’ federal politics bureau. He also has an instinct for audiences and what drives them to engage with, and then pay for, our journalism.”

Shields, and his equivalent at the Age, Gay Alcorn, have two layers of management above them and little control over the national editorial agenda under the paper’s editorial structure.

The editors of the Herald and the Age report to Maguire and Nine’s managing director of publishing, James Chessell.

Maguire was promoted in July to executive editor of the Age, the Sydney Morning Herald, WAtoday and Brisbane Times.

She joined the Fairfax/Nine group after Fairfax Media’s joint venture with the Huffington Post came to an end in 2017.

Shields said he wanted the Herald to be “bold, brave and think big”.

“The newsroom will set the standard for intelligent, fearless journalism that does justice to our extraordinary 190-year history and the special place The Sydney Morning Herald occupies in the hearts and minds of so many in Sydney and around Australia,” he said.

The former editor-in-chief of the Herald, Darren Goodsir, said Shields had the “rare gift of being able to balance old-school journalistic qualities with the digital era”.

In 2018 Fairfax Media shareholders approved a $4bn merger with Nine to create a multimedia company, ending the historic Fairfax brand which was founded when John Fairfax bought the Sydney Morning Herald in 1841.

This year Nine Entertainment appointed the digital media executive Mike Sneesby to run the company, signalling the dominance of the television side of the business.

The chairman of Nine Entertainment, the former Liberal treasurer Peter Costello, said Sneesby stood out among contenders for his strong leadership of the company’s “enormously successful” streaming service Stan, which he took from startup in 2014 to a market evaluation of $1bn, with 2.3 million subscribers.

The Herald celebrated its 190th birthday this year.

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