The spectre of Ron Walker has raised its
exceedingly ugly head as the Fairfax redundancies threaten to get
nasty. According to swirling rumours, the Fairfax chairman has drawn up
a hit list of “leftie” journalists he wants drummed out of the company
– and near the top is SMH Canberra correspondent Mike Seccombe.

The Herald
Canberra bureau stop work meeting was a noisy and divided affair
yesterday, as the gallery hacks came to terms with the political
undercurrents driving the Fairfax redundancy program.

Staff are meeting with management this morning, followed by another stop work meeting.

The writing was on the wall when Max Walsh wrote his well-briefed Bulletin
column this week reflecting the Walker view: that the paper needs to
move away from its “left liberal” line. Stay tuned for more action as
the situation hots up, and nervous hacks calculate their potential
redundancy payments.

In the words of one senior insider: “A lot
of senior journos grabbed calculators, did the sums and saw easy
street. But on reflection, it’s not clear how many will go for the
money. Many want to stay in journalism and can’t see any ready
alternatives in quality journalism, with contributors budgets shrinking
and few full time jobs available.”

So if there isn’t a rush, will things get really nasty as management starts tapping people who don’t want to go?