Fairfax staff members have been given a rare opportunity to compare and contrast the writing styles of their editor in chief and chief executive officer this morning after the two men issued their own versions of the same announcement.

The staff memos, each announcing the same senior appointments, suggest that the CEO, Brian McCarthy and the editor in chief of The Age, Andrew Jaspan, were too busy communicating with their minions to take a moment to communicate with each other.

Luckily the two memos issued at 10.35 AM and 11.10 AM respectively, said much the same thing, namely that Canberra Times editor, Mark Baker, will return to Melbourne to assume the dreadful sounding role of editor for special projects while Sunday Age editor Peter Fray will head to Canberra to replace him.

This was pretty well how Crikey reported the story yesterday although interestingly it was denied by Baker, who is quoted in The Australian today saying “I have not been offered another job within Fairfax,” and “Editing The Canberra Times is a job I am enjoying immensely.”

This is reminiscent of Jaspan’s famous denials that he’d been approached to edit The Age just days before his appointment was announced.

However, in yesterday’s Crikey scoop we did not reveal the other big announcement made first by McCarthy and then again by Jaspan. Both tell us that Gay Alcorn will take over the helm at the Sunday Age . Perhaps this was omitted yesterday because we’ve always understood that Alcorn once withdrew her application for the job because she didn’t want to work that closely with Jaspan.

McCarthy’s memo is crisp, to the point and matter of fact as you’d expect for an ex-Rural Press man. Jaspan’s memo, is pure broadsheet – longer and replete with superlatives. He reassuringly predicts that Alcorn will be “brilliant” in her role at the Sunday Age and expresses “delight” about the “distinguished” Baker’s return.

Jaspan goes a bit further than McCarthy by recognizing the “outstanding” contribution of Paul Ramadge, the senior deputy editor of The Age , before making the curious announcement that he will stand in as editor in chief when Jaspan is away.

Both memos, unfortunately, resort to the same trite horn-blowing nonsense about The Age being the PANPA Newspaper of the Year, as if the accolade, doled out by the boffins of the newspaper industry, counts for anything.

Peter Fray

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