The redundancy process continues apace at Fairfax newspapers. For some it has not been a voluntary departure.

The restructuring of The Age‘s marketing department under the stern hand of new chief David Hoath has been bloody and close to cruel. John Kilner had been a part of The Age education unit since 1979. He was told to “leave now” by Hoath earlier this week. His bag and the contents of his desk would be forwarded on. His name, and that of the other five members of the department sacked simultaneously had already been removed from The Age intranet. Other staff were in tears.

The next day, John Kilner sat down to write a brief note to a handful of colleagues.

Subject: A note to friends and colleagues


Just a short note to a few colleagues in editorial to let you know I left The Age today. I was made redundant. Nineteen years is a long time spent in The Age Education Unit, attached to the marketing department.

I am very proud to have served The Age and extremely proud of the work of my small unit. The body of work was all encompassing, from liftouts to events, pages and sections in the Education section, workshops, talks to schools, various Age education awards, professional development for teachers on newspapers, resources for schools, the website — so much. Spoke to over 200,000 students in that time, at such a formative stage of their lives. What an honour. The unit received a raft of awards. It’s been a real privilege.

My first visit to a school for The Age was Sea Lake Secondary College in 1989. I stayed at the Sea Lake Motel — $14 a night to sleep on a camp stretcher. After I gave a talk to all the senior students, a boy came up to me and said, “Gee when they said a guy from The Age was coming along, I thought this would be boring as batsh-t. But I realised you were showing me about life. The Age is about life, isn’t it.” The boy became a friend and works at the Herald Sun nowadays. The Jesuits were right — give me the boy and I’ll give you the man. That belief underpinned a lot of the work of the Age Education Unit since 1979.

Most of all, just want to say what a great experience it has been to in some small way have worked with you all over the years. I sat down just now and tried to think of people who I would like to wish well. I chose each of you to send this message to because I have been inspired at times by each of you, for your willingness to get involved, to give, for sheer doggedness, for your integrity, the dedication I have witnessed, the extraordinary skills of each of you. I have valued your friendship; best wishes and warmest regards to each of you.

John Kilner