Message from the editor – by an Age correspondent:

Age editor-in-chief Andrew Jaspan launched an extraordinary public attack on the integrity of The Australian‘s associate editor and senior writer Cameron Stewart yesterday afternoon while making an address to the paper’s editorial staff.

Jaspan told Age journalists that he had recently held lengthy talks with Stewart about joining the newspaper. He described how he had been initially amazed at the salary package Stewart was on at The Australian, but eventually made an offer above this. He said Stewart agreed to join The Age, but later telephoned and said The Australian had made a counter offer. Jaspan said Stewart then said he was still prepared to join The Age if it would match The Australian’s counter-offer.

Jaspan told the assembled Age journalists, who had been summoned to hear his regular monthly update to staff, that it had been a close shave over Stewart because he didn’t want someone working for the paper who was prepared to behave like that.

Staff stood amazed as they listened to this unprompted assault on Stewart’s integrity. It also raises serious questions about any future assurances of confidentiality Jaspan might provide to people negotiating with him over salary or jobs.

Battle of the heavyweights – by a Sydney Morning Herald correspondent:

Paul Sheehan (Heavyweight 1), he of magic water fame, got wind of the fact that Ben Hills (Heavyweight 2), a ferocious bull terrier who’s frightening when aroused, had got on to the fact that the magic water inventor is a bit suss. This after Sheehan managed to get an extraordinary personal endorsement in the Good Weekend in April 2002 – and followed it up with this story – for a product that he claimed worked, but provided no scientific evidence to back this up.

Hills interviewed Sheehan about it, and on Monday Sheehan wrote a columnabout magic water that was curious to say the least. It was seemingly designed to muddy Hill’s pitch and also to remove Sheehan from the centre of attention.

This was his second attempt to get it in. The editors pulled it, but when Sheehan claimed the management had been running a campaign against him that attacked his professionalism, management fell for it and ran the column.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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