Morale on The Daily Telegraph remains rock-bottom after the notorious anonymous hit-list and now a spate of resignations. Are the two connected?

We have stated before that we remain totally convinced that deputy editor Madonna King is not the author of the said document.

But we have to ask whether the latest heavyweight departures suggest all is not happy on the good ship Telegraph as the list’s author remains an unexplained mystery.

Firstly, sports editor Geoff Stead resigned last week, quickly followed by the man who was originally promised the job of sports editor, backbencher Peter Atkinson.

Atko, Steady and Madonna are all from Brisbane. Atko took a dive from the Olympics desk onto the backbench at about the time Madonna’s Olympic star was rising.

Atko, who was a successful (ie prolific) New York correspondent for News Ltd about four years ago has parachuted into a senior gig under the hugely ambitious Michael Prain on Brisbane’s Sunday Mail.

Having seen how much more relaxed Brett McCarthy has become since opting out of the Telegraph shark pool onto a more relaxing gig as deputy editor of the Sunday Telegraph, Atko appears to be following suit.

Geoff Stead is another successful New York correspondent who came out of Brisbane although like most News Ltd foreign correspondents, he fell out with Syndications boss Bruce Loudon. Stead became so infuriated with Loudon’s mean-spirited approach to expenses and the like that he insisted News Ltd pay for his flying time in the air on the way home.

Crikey understands Steady is following his wife back to New York to reclaim and apartment they own. Another Brisvegan heading home is former page 13 editor Kim Sweetman who is following her hubby back to Brisbane where he has been appointed bureau chief for The Australian.

Former hard-working Tele chief of staff Michael Cameron is due back from New York early in the new year and there will be plenty of vacancies awaiting him on the backbench.

Karen Porter is another mentioned on the original list who has opted out and taken a gig as deputy editor of the Adelaide Advertiser under editor Mel Mansell, one of the genuine nice guys and good operators in the game. The Telegraph back bench will be the poorer by one person for Karen’s departure from Sydney.

Another Telegraph backbencher Nick Cater, a highly successful foreign correspondent for the group in Hong Kong a few years back, is also apparently jack of the place and has requested a transfer to The Australian where his intellect might be slightly more appreciated.

The other departure last week was dynamic business gossip columnist Wade O’Leary who steered the Bottom of the Harbour column with a great deal of enthusiasm for one so inexperienced. Given that business is the only section that Lachlan Murdoch takes an interest in, Crikey will be writing to Col Allan offering to take over the column.

Having also lost senior columnists Tim Blair and Sandra Lee in recent months, the Tele is looking a bit thin these days. Circulation has taken a dive this year and the rugby league world remains infuriated with what Murdoch and his crew have done to their great game. But are they as angry as Murdoch who has dropped $500 million in his biggest Australian disaster in 47 years.

Lastly, witty media columnist Amanda Meade has declined to ever mention the earthquake inducing Telegraph “list”, but had kindly done a rival spoof list for the benefit of Crikey’s readers. That was until News Ltd lawyer Brian “do you know who I am” Gallagher rang up asking for our fax number and word came back that Amanda was not seeing the funny side so we changed the by-line to Col Hartigan. For those who need to have this explained, Col Hartigan is a Crikey concoction. In other words, there is no such person. Geddit.

Please do not take this list at all seriously as some of the descriptions are the exact opposite of the truth. All of the people mentioned are truly wonderful humans and journalists so everyone should take this the right way. It’s a joke.

REFORM TICKET TO DRIVE THE DAILY TELEGRAPH TO THE NEXT LEVEL

THE A TEAM

Fiona Friend: Viciously ambitious. Murderously corrupt. Heavily tattooed. Feared by all. Must keep onside. Soul sister.

Wilco: Needs upgrade to more recent cyborg software, but existing animatronic program still capable of producing basic layouts and headlines. Soul robot.

David Luff: Backstabbed Blair and English in successful bid for cushy news desk role. Feed his ego but don’t leave alone with copy girls.

Anna Patty: Very political, manipulative, deceitful, bigoted, vulgar, vengeful, sadistic, tormented, psychotic. Already onside.

Nui Te Koha: Energetic. Man of brilliant ideas and blessed with the reporting and writing skills to see them through to completion. A towering monument of journalistic authority.

Dean Ritchie: Cagey, wily, deeply political. Will crush anyone in his way to the top. Ace corporate strategist.

Mr T: Vital component of The A Team. Onside with Col. John “Hannibal” Smith and Capt. H.M. “Howling Mad” Murdock.

THE OUT TEAM

Dora Tsavdiridiodisopalous: Has to go. Too hard to spell.

Lachlan Murdoch: Too immature, lacks political nous. Move sideways to US then bring back to the right side when old enough.

Col Allan: Too sensitive and bookish. Poetry readings for the cadets a terrible mistake. Lowest-selling Tele ever when he splashed on comparitive religious beliefs of the 16th century. Readers unhappy with new Latin crossword.

Pops McDonald: No sense of reality. No credibility.

Madonna King: Lacks ambition. No drive or spark at all. Pliant, yielding, unfocussed. Happy to coast along until she quits to become a housewife. (Ed’s note: please note lawyers, this is a joke.)

Dave Fitzsimmons: High-tech carbon-fibre hair dome prevents ceiling-mounted News Ltd brain scanners from reading his mind. Not a team player.

Peter Frilingos: Name is an anagram of “entire frog lips.” Must go.

Steve Howard: Raised corporate concern with decision to sponsor Mardi Gras float. Raised legal concern with acts he performed on it. What about the boyfriend? (Ed’s note: Joke: he’s happily married.)

Karen Porter: Good operator. Not political. Will go with anyone. But let’s leave her private life out of this.

Nick Cater: Cyclist.

THE HAVE TO PUT UP WITH TEAM (for the time being)

Tim Hilferty: Obscene bullying tyrant monster. Physically repellent. Gaping leprous sores and the spillage from innumerable colostomy bags probably the cause of ghastly fumes which hover above him like a pall of death, but how to explain the wasteland of morbid loathing that dwells within this hideous agent of the damned? But has good aviation contacts.

Malcolm Farr: Lightweight. Frivolous. A total airhead.

Steve Moorehouse: Has powerful friends, so was able to hush up Phillipines holiday scandal. Boy too traumatised to go to police.

Editor’s note: please laugh, don’t sue.

Peter Fray

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