At Rural Press’s Canberra Times,
they’re gearing up for a staff exodus with the resignation of at least
five staff over the last couple of weeks. But is there anything more to
the exit?

Crikey has confirmed today that five staff are set to
leave: business editor and back-up chief of staff Scott Hannaford,
senior journalist Elicia Murray, chief sports sub-editor Peter
Farquhar, a general sub-editor and a photographer.

So is this
indicative of management issues under editor Michael Stevens? Nope,
says one insider. The staff who are leaving all had “genuinely decent
places to go to.” In fact, says another, “it’s exciting for the paper
that people who’ve done their cadetships here” are heading to bigger papers in Australia.

And as for those persistent rumours that
Stevens is set to resign (either by his or management’s volition),
insiders we spoke to don’t think there’s anything it. As one person
tells Crikey, this bit of gossip has been “floating around for as long
as I can remember … every time he goes on leave that resurfaces.”

Back
in August, Crikey asked if it was true that there are “only three
journalists left of the 60 who were there when Stevens took over the
helm of The Canberra Times three years ago.” We were told at
the time that these figures were inflated. And an insider today
confirmed that this was an exaggeration.

But it’s true that “all
the experienced reporters have gone” from the newsroom – and “some have
escaped to the subs desk,” says our source. Why the shift? Reporters
are “asked frequently to do five stories a day” which they can’t keep
doing “continuously.” As for photographers, it’s “unbelievable the
number of jobs they’re given.”