Fiery new Age editor Andrew Jaspan seems to be working on the hoary basis that any publicity is good publicity. Jaspan has landed himself in hot water again, this time for shooting off at the mouth in an interview with the media industry newsletter MediaWeek last week, where he made some loose and disparaging remarks about former Age editor Bruce Guthrie, now editor of the The Weekend Australian Magazine. We can’t reprint the comments, but Guthrie was understandably furious and let MediaWeek editor James Manning know his feelings in no uncertain terms. Manning responded today with this abject apology:
Apology to Bruce Guthrie
On March 7 in our Person of the Week column, The Age editor-in-chief, Andrew Jaspan, made comments about former Age editor, Mr Bruce Guthrie, that impugned Mr Guthrie’s reputation.
MediaWeek accepts that Mr Jaspan’s comments were incorrect and acknowledges that Mr Guthrie’s years at The Age were marked by steady circulation and readership growth and award-winning journalism.
During Mr Guthrie’s two-year editorship of The Age, the paper’s daily sales increased from 191,032 to 209,500, while the Saturday paper increased 15,000 to 360,000. The Age won eight Walkley Awards for journalistic excellence during this period.
Mr Guthrie was also the founding deputy editor of The Sunday Age when it launched in 1989 and as editor, from 1992 to 1995, oversaw an increase in that paper’s weekly sales to more than 190,000 and it’s first ever Walkley Award win.
Now editor of The Weekend Australian Magazine, in the past 12 months Mr Guthrie has presided over a readership increase of almost 100,000 for that title. MediaWeek acknowledges that Mr Guthrie is a highly capable and successful editor and apologises unreservedly to him.
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It’s a silly slip for Jaspan and it’s likely to make him some enemies at Spencer Street, where a small group of hacks idolise Guthrie for his early work on The Sunday Age. Guthrie, who was the model for the editor played by Geoffrey Rush in the ABC TV series Mercury, was popular — in some circles — for his campaigning style and the way he stuck it to the Kennett government. But it was his coverage of Kennett that riled several Fairfax directors, especially Sir Rod Carnegie (now departed) and Ron Walker, who has taken the Englishman Jaspan under his considerable wing.