Stephen Feneley, outspoken former ABC arts reporter, slams the legacy of former editor Michael Gawenda.

I am not an Age insider, just a very bored and angry punter who, over eight years living in Melbourne, has watched the slow death of a once great newspaper. Under Gawenda, The Age seemed to go out of its way to send its readers to sleep. Jaspan has only been in the job a short time but already it is possible to see some sign of life coming back into the paper.

With the very odd exception, Gawenda seemed to have his reporters under a riding instruction to NOT break stories. Leaving aside the assault on the head of ATSIC, it is hard to remember a time when The Age under Gawenda ever campaigned on anything. The Age began to resemble its editor-in-chief – grey, smug and dull.

At least now we are seeing some signs of fire in the journos’ bellies – even if their campaigning thus far is only about cleaning up a river which, from the point of view of an ex Sydneysider, was never anything more than a glorified creek.

The paper now looks a little more energetic, it looks like the people who put it together are beginning to enjoy themselves, a bit. The Age under Gawenda looked like something some old Soviet hacks might have produced, driven by an overwhelming desire not to offend anybody, except uppity blackfellas.