The Monthly needs a new editor. Ben Naparstek — the baby-faced wonder who was roundly ridiculed for becoming editor of The Monthly at the age of 23 only to make the magazine more widely-read than ever — has now quit to join Fairfax. Naparstek, now 25, will edit Good Weekend, the features supplement in The Age and Sydney Morning Herald on Saturday. He’ll move to Sydney from Melbourne and start in January.

Garry Linnell, the News Limited refugee who was poached as Fairfax’s new national editor, calls Naparstek “one of the finest editing talents in the country”: “He has shown a remarkable ability to commission some of Australia’s best writers, been unafraid to tackle controversial and important issues and he’s passionate about great words and great storytelling.” Fairfax says Lauren Quaintance, acting editor of GW since Judith Whelan was promoted to SMH Saturday editor, will become managing editor across GW and Sunday Life.

Monthly publisher Morry Schwartz says he’s sorry to see his young protégé go. In a statement the publisher said:

Morry Schwartz, publisher of The Monthly, says of Naparstek: “Ben has been an outstanding editor who has done a brilliant job of maintaining the high standard of writing in the magazine and driving up circulation and readership. I’m sorry to be losing him but trust that he will have an exciting future and wish him well with his plans.”

Naparstek says: “It’s been a privilege and delight to steer the Monthly for nearly three years, during which time it’s cemented its position as the country’s leading magazine for high quality and agenda-setting stories.”

Over the 2010-2011 period, The Monthly saw an increase in readership from 90,000 to 121,000 and an increase in circulation of 21.5%, from 24,663 to 29,982. The Monthly won current affairs, business and finance magazine of the year at the 2011 Australian Magazine Awards.

Naparstek became editor in May 2009 and will continue in the role until February 2012.

A new editor will be appointed in the weeks ahead.

Crikey contacted Naparstek for comment but he couldn’t be reached right on deadline. — Jason Whittaker

Front page of the day. On Tuesday, Belgium’s worst peace-time massacre left five dead and 123 wounded. This is how Gazet van Antwerpen led its front page yesterday — “Murderous madness”:

NotW ex-head of legal ‘held up key email to Murdoch’

The News of the World’s former head of legal has said he held up the front page of an email that suggested phone hacking went beyond a single journalist at the paper during a critical meeting with James Murdoch to discuss how best to settle a legal action.” — The Guardian

Debt-laden Nine is still not the one for Packer

“James Packer has ruled out buying back the debt-laden Nine Network from its private equity owners, claiming he has no immediate plans to invest further in free-to-air television because Kerry Stokes’ Seven Network has become too dominant.” — The Australian

UK journos given wider freedom to tweet from court

“Journalists no longer have to seek permission from a judge to report live from court using text-based devices, according to new guidance issued by the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge.” — journalism.co.uk

The top political stories on Facebook in 2011

“Facebook has released a list of the most popular US political news stories among its users over the past year. It’s a pretty depressing read if you’re idealistic like me, and wish that more people would listen to the other side more often because we’re all a bunch of dumb humans, anyway.” — Tech Crunch

Peter Fray

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