Modern corporate communication is often a masterwork of multilayered meaning. Take this memo sent to Age staff last Friday by managing director Don Churchill. We’ve added notes to aid the decoding process.

Subject: Announcement to staff from Don Churchill
Date: Fri, 19 Sep 2008 12:27:17 +1000
From: [email protected]

I want to provide an update on the process of transformation in our company.
(Transformation? You know, that thing where we prune 20% of the journalist staff and close the canteen for night workers.)

At the same time, I want to praise staff for keeping our business on track and focused.
(Thank goodness. I know most of you have spent the bulk of the working week crunching numbers on redundancy payouts and hitting the phones looking for work elsewhere, but somehow, in spite of all that, the paper keeps coming out. It’s a daily miracle.)

It has been a very strong week in Editorial, with our senior AFL writers scooping the pool at the Australian Football Media Awards. Well done to the Sports team.
(Must remember to keep some of you at the paper.)

Well done, too, to education award winners Clay Lucas and Ken Davidson.
(Isn’t Ken Davidson that horrid pinko who hates power and public transport privatisation? Surely he’ll be taking a package?)

And excellent work by our Canberra bureau with the comprehensive reporting of the dramatic change in the federal Liberal leadership.
(Although I must say it did use up a lot of paper … do you think we could keep future leadership changes to a single page?)

Across our business we have a lot of great activity occurring:

  • We are close to the exciting re-launch of Green Guide on October 23. This project has been led by Jodie Roker, with a project team from across the business.
    (should be able to screw at least 12 page out of that one.) 
  • We are making the most of the AFL finals fervour, with promotions of the paper booked and in place.
    (We’re pretty keen on finals fever too. I know my way round Melbourne!) 
  • Our local retail sales team are going from strength to strength with their new territory management structure.
    (I have no idea what this mean either.)
  • We are well-advanced on the development of our integrated sales team for Domain – one team selling to key clients across The Age, FCN and www.domain.com.au.
    (They happen to be the only people left, but this makes it sound rather a positive don’t you think?)

There is a lot going on, and all of this activity is extremely pleasing.
(So many of you are going! How splendid.)

It is important that we keep the paper strong throughout this period of change.
(This will be especially so when we actually confirm who is taking packages, but if we frog march them out quick enough the others may not notice.)

Peter Fray

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