Dear former colleague,

Greetings from sunny Acapulco! I’d offer that I “wish you were here”, but that would be to insult your intelligence.

This morning, my smoko Piña Colada was interrupted by an emergency call. The high-pitched jibber-jabber on the other end made me think it was the lass in reception complaining again about me spinning my Billy Thorpe platters in the wee hours. It turned out to be Akerman. In between the heaving, girlish sobs, he managed to tell me that f-cking Williams has finally ruined the company, and that I could see the shocking video evidence online.

I adjourned to a local “internet cafe” and dialled up the News website. As I watched Williams’ puckered arse defile the desk over which I once prevailed in a face-slapping competition with Tommy Raudonikis, I tried to decide whether he most resembled a train conductor, a minor Bond villain, or a grim proctologist gently breaking news of inoperable rectal cancer.

As to what he was saying, it made about as much sense as the time he ordered Campari and soda in the Tuscan dialect at Lucio’s. On that night, as I tucked into a well-done steak and chips and watched him eat what looked like a kitten drowned in balsamic vinegar, I had a twinge of guilt. It occurred to me that I might be leaving the fate of you all in the hands of a bloodless, effete corporate bureaucrat. But then I thought again about the frankly astonishing payout that had just hit my bank account, shrugged and called for another schooie of Resch’s.

Anyway, Akerman has urged me to say a few consoling words. To some of you, it will have come as a shock to hear a News CEO direct vague, sinister threats to his own staff, rather than to refugees, ministers of the Crown or Jonathan Holmes. This is the brutal world I attempted to shield you from as long as I could. I tried to create a journalist’s utopia of defamatory Photoshopping, playful vilification and long afternoons at the Aurora. But those days are gone. Now Williams’ pudgy fingers have struck up You’re Fucked in D Minor on the clarinet of doom.

In my days at the helm, innovation meant illustrating a story about a pertussis outbreak with Jen Hawkins in a micro-bikini. The “digital revolution” was a clever sub’s take on John Hopoate’s approach to tackling. I accept all of this, but I reject entirely Williams’ pissant whining about how until he came along, the company lacked “customer focus”.

As long as I was there, I had a very clear picture in my mind of our ideal reader, whom I tried to appeal to at all times. He was a success, perhaps in the corporate world, but at the same time he was a knockabout bloke, the kind who would order steak and chips in an Italian restaurant. Middle age had treated him well: he was greying, but only in a way that made him more attractive. He wasn’t immune to the appeal of the good life: I often pictured him listening to Some People I Know at high volume as he restocked his Hunter Valley wine cellar. And I think our readership, circs and demographics show how successful I was in appealing to him.

To those of you about to lose your jobs in coming months, I wish you well. Obviously your package will only be a tiny fraction of what I trousered, so you’ll certainly need to dust off the CV and work the puppy eyes. Ordinarily I’d recommend trying your luck at Fairfax but HAHAHAHAHA not really an option. I’d also avoid manufacturing, the public service and almost anything that doesn’t involve standing beside a pit wearing a fluoro vest. Then again, it’s possible, I suppose, that if you learn how to speak Tuscan and mix a Campari and soda, Lucio may give you the opportunity to feel that, now and again, in a small way, you are still serving this great company.

Go fuck yourselves,

Big Harto

Peter Fray

Fetch your first 12 weeks for $12

What a year. Here at Crikey, we saw a mighty surge in subscribers throughout 2020. Your support has been nothing short of amazing — we couldn’t have got through this year like no other without you, our readers.

If you haven’t joined us yet, fetch your first 12 weeks for $12 and start 2021 with the journalism you need to navigate whatever lies ahead.

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

JOIN NOW