There’s something smelly about an appointment to New Delhi.
That’s the word at The Age following a strange turn of events in which the post of Indian foreign correspondent has been handed to a reporter from The Sydney Morning Herald instead of their own paper.
Journalists believe it’s another example of the erratic ways of Editor-in-Chief Andrew Jaspan because he failed to defend his paper’s claim on the position after personally neglecting to interview any of the Melbourne candidates.
The Age House Committee is far from happy and has held meetings with Jaspan.
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The story goes something like this:
Fairfax’s foreign bureaus are filled on a take-it-in-turns basis. Under the system, a journalist from The Age replaces one from the Herald. For example Age reporter James Button currently holds the London post. Before him it was Peter Fray from the Herald and in New York, Ian Munro from The Age has replaced Mark Coultan from the Herald.
Because Fairfax has recently closed its bureaus in Tokyo and Bangkok – and because both were due to be filled by The Age – staff from Melbourne were invited to apply for the newly created post in New Delhi.
After a tough selection process, two respected reporters, Farah Farouque and Tom Hyland, were short-listed. But after a month of waiting, both were told by Paul Ramadge, the Senior Deputy Editor, that they had missed out on the job. According to the House Committee, neither was told why.
Then came the news that Herald journalist Matt Wade had got the gig. Unlike either Farouque or Hyland, Wade was interviewed by Jaspan. Everyone Crikey spoke to says Wade is a good journalist. But they’re curious why he applied when only Age staff were invited to do so. Wade declined to answer that question saying he “didn’t want to create misunderstandings”.
Meanwhile Age reporters were told not to worry because another new posting would be opening in Jerusalem. Jaspan told the troops that the paper’s dedicated stringer, Ed O’Loughlin, would be finishing in September. This came as news to O’Loughlin who was in Australia at the time and had just been re-appointed by the Herald’s Editor-in-Chief, Alan Oakley, for another twelve months.
Insiders say the New Delhi appointment reveals Jaspan’s lack of faith in his own team and casts doubt over his commitment to the masthead. They also say it’s a real blow to the progression of reporters who see foreign postings as a reward for hard work.