Competition has been fierce between The Courier-Mail and The Australian of late. Courier-Mail editor David Fagan has been complaining that The Australian’s Chris Mitchell has been poaching his staff. What Fagan’s not telling people is that a number of reporters were desperate to leave TheCourier-Mail after being horrified with the way staff were being treated and the direction of the paper.

This has led to some feisty competition between The Australian’s Brisbane bureau, which has provided a sanctuary for several Courier Mail defectors. One such incident occurred last month when a reporter in The Australian’s Brisbane bureau got wind of how The Courier had gone and purchased the extracts to an autobiography by Queensland’s media tart premier Peter Beattie.

The exact purchase price has been something of a mystery with some saying $5,000 others saying $30,000. The Australian’s new political reporter Sean Parnell, formerly The Courier’s political reporter, got wind of the impending extracts to appear in the Courier-Mail.

He approached the publishers for some snippets but they told him no go, you have to wait until the embargo is over – by which point The Courier would have published the best bits. Parnell to his credit, spurred on in part by taunting emails from a senior Courier Mail individual, rang every book store in Queensland and eventually nailed a copy that was just about to be put on the shelf at a local book dealer in Brisbane’s CBD.

Parnell strolled down to the CBD and bought the book and then The Aus went lock stock and barrel in Queensland, running huge on it. So complete was the surprise that TheCourier-Mail night editor didn’t even pick up the massive run of the material in The Aus‘s first edition, which is delivered to The Courier in the evening.

Had they done so they may have been able to catch up or at least a matcher. God knows what happened to those involved in the publishing side for letting the editions hit the shelves before the extracts came out. Anyway it’s not going to be the last time The Courier has sparked controversy over book deals. There’s another meatier row brewing internally in the courier over book deals and Doctor Death that’s involved News Ltd’s most senior management and somebody’s wife.