Beleaguered Age editor Paul Ramadge — who was forced to take to the pages of his own paper 10 days ago to defend himself against Jeff Kennett — has finally announced that deputy editor Sean O’Connor will leave for greener pastures.
Crikey exclusively reported details of O’Connor’s predicament early last month, with the highly regarded South African reportedly peeved over the appointment of another South African, Mike van Niekerk (“Kneejerk” in some quarters), to the position of weekday editor.
Just weeks earlier, Ramadge announced O’Connor would assist senior editor Mark Baker, with a special mention made of his “strong re-emergence in the newsroom this year” following a stint in strategic publications. Instead, O’Connor promptly decided to head off on leave.
Here’s Ramadge’s email to staff last night confirming their worst fears:
Get Crikey FREE to your inbox every weekday morning with the Crikey Worm.
Sean O’Connor — one of this paper’s most highly respected editors — has decided to leave The Ageafter what have [sic] exceptional years of service.
I am sure you will join me in wishing Sean the very best for the future. He is a journalist of so many wonderful talents.
A card for Sean is being passed around. Please see Laura Hamilton to get your farewell message on it.
One colleague described O’Connor as “a workhorse who’s been around for decades and knows where all the skeletons are buried”:
“As well as the company turfing out 1500 years of subbing experience by sacking the subs, Sean’s invaluable knowledge bank is being dispensed with. His recent return to the newsroom was heralded as one of the best moves ever — like they all are — so it’s a mystery why he would be usurped so soon. There is so much music and too few chairs. Sean must have been really peeved to resign. It cements the end of the good old days when staffers entrenched in the culture had something that the cheap Pagemasters deal can’t buy: in-house experience and passion.”
Another senior Age journo said: “Staff will miss Sean’s passion for rallying the troops with his war cries ‘cracking yarn’ and ‘this is page one’. And the vision of him strolling through the office on casual Fridays and weekends wearing a polo top with upright collar will also be fondly remembered.”