Morry Schwartz steps aside as chairman of independent publisher Schwartz Media

<span>Photograph: The Age/Fairfax Media/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: The Age/Fairfax Media/Getty Images

Morry Schwartz has given up his leading role at the company he founded more than four decades ago, announcing to staff he will step aside as chairman of Schwartz Media and step back from day-to-day operations.

Schwartz Media is the publisher of the Saturday Paper, the Monthly and the Quarterly Essay.

“I am extremely proud of the company I have built and of the titles that make Schwartz Media the country’s leading independent news source,” Schwartz said in the email on Monday, also posted as a statement on the company’s website.

“I have full confidence in the senior team at Schwartz Media, who will lead the company from here. I am stepping back to give space to the next phase of growth and excellence. A new chief executive will join in the new year, adding to the team already in place.”

The company’s former chief executive, Rebecca Costello, announced her departure from the company in September to become managing director of Guardian Australia.

The editor-in-chief of the Saturday Paper, Erik Jensen, said in a statement Morry Schwartz’s impact on publishing in Australia had been “profound”.

“He has made an enormous contribution to Australian journalism and it’s a privilege for all of us at Schwartz Media to continue to build on that,” Jensen said.

The Melbourne publisher’s wife, gallery owner Anna Schwartz, has been the subject of media coverage following the decision by Anna Schwartz Gallery to sever its 36-year relationship with the artist Mike Parr over content in his current show that refers to the Israel-Hamas war.

Related: Anna Schwartz says Mike Parr’s use of ‘Israel’ and ‘Nazi’ in performance work led her to sever ties

Last week Parr told the Guardian he had quarrelled with Morry Schwartz about a week earlier about the situation in Gaza, including coverage of the issue in the Saturday Paper, which Parr said he perceived to be unjustifiably pro-Israel.

Schwartz, who is the son of Holocaust survivors, said he had argued with the artist but the conversation had nothing to do with the Saturday Paper or its coverage.

Jensen said then he disagreed with any criticism of the Saturday Paper’s coverage, and said he and Parr had never discussed it.

“Our coverage has been scrupulous and impartial,” he said.

Schwartz told the Nine papers on Monday coverage of the war was not the reason for him stepping down.

A Saturday Paper writer who spoke to the Guardian on the condition of anonymity said Schwartz gave no reason for his abrupt departure.

“Morry never interfered in our coverage of Gaza, but I’m sure there are people here who are uncomfortable,” they said.

“But as far as I’m concerned, our coverage of the issue has been pretty straight down the line.”

Schwartz did not respond to a request for comment on Monday.