From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …
Fairfax departures. Over at Fairfax’s Pyrmont HQ, speculation is swirling over whether The Sydney Morning Herald plans to continue with the position of readers’ editor as it enters a trimmed down, digital-first era. The Herald’s readers’ editor and former senior subeditor Judy Prisk took to Twitter on Tuesday to announce her departure after almost a year in the role. Prisk doesn’t know whether the position will continue, and new editor Sean Aylmer declined to comment when contacted by Crikey. Although not everyone has been a fan of Prisk’s approach — many think she too often sided with the paper rather than readers — the loss of the readers’ editor position would be seen as a blow to the Herald’s bid to become more accountable to its readers.
Prisk is only the latest in a long line of departures as Fairfax sheds 1900 jobs. Applications for redundancies close on August 24. Crikey is compiling a list of editorial staff who have announced or confirmed their departure, and we’ll be keeping it updated as the names roll in. It’s already clear that an enormous amount of talent — and experience — is leaving the company.
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Crikey list: Fairfax redundancy roll call
- David Marr (The Sydney Morning Herald senior writer)
- Judy Prisk (The Sydney Morning Herald readers’ editor)
- Andrew Stevenson (The Sydney Morning Herald education editor)
- Jessica Irvine (The Sydney Morning Herald economics writer. Jumping ship to News Limited and understood not to have taken redundancy. Got sick of waiting for Ross Gittins to retire or die. The latter may well precede the former.)
- Kirsty Simpson (The Age media editor, former business ed)
- Lorna Edwards (“Melbourne Life” ed)
- Ray Cassin (senior staffer)
- Tom Ormonde (The Age subediting veteran)
- Diana Streak (The Canberra Times arts editor)
- Gillian Lord (The Canberra Times features editor)
- Rossyln Beeby (The Canberra Times environment reporter)
Whispers from the Abbott bunker. It’s no secret that Julia Gillard has struggled to keep staff since she assumed the top job — but is everything so rosy down the corridor chez Abbott? Legendary chief-of-staff Peta Credlin, her husband, the party’s federal director Brian Loughnane, and Abbott make a powerful troika that is not loved by everyone in the Coalition. We hear claims that some insiders believe Credlin is heavy-handed, and, as guardian of Abbott’s diary, has (and exercises) power over which MPs he meets. It appears that Credlin and Abbott’s communications director (and plain-spoken party veteran) Tony O’Leary may not always agree. Similarly, we’ve heard claims that Credlin and media adviser James Boyce do not always take the same approach on media issues.
Creina Chapman, who is ex-manager of corporate affairs at News Limited, recently started working with Abbott as a senior adviser. A source with News experience suggests the Abbott office has become “more active on media issues” with Chapman on board.
Then there’s this Coalition tip from a Canberra insider:
“There are also concerns from the modest members and some of the frontbench that Abbott is too close to the Nationals, particularly in light of the Foreign Investment discussion paper. And while Abbott has more than a few doctors on his staff, they’ve got little in the way of actual public policy experience and it’s starting to show with the cupboards bare just one year out from the election.”
Now, we know the Greens hate to be left out when we’re talking about the major parties, so it’s their turn. Got a hot tip on what life’s like in the Milne-era Greens? It seems the lanky Ben Oquist has seamlessly transitioned from heading up Bob Brown’s office and is now running the ship under Christine Milne. Oquist, a very savvy political operator, is admired by many in the party for getting runs on the board, although some hardliners grumble that he has too much power and is too pragmatic. Please fill us in on the Greens, and feel free to do so anonymously.
Not Newman’s fault — for once. Crikey has given Campbell Newman a hard time of late due to a positive flood of tips from aggrieved Queenslanders. But we’re taking his side for once. A mole who seems very familiar with the premier’s department told us that John Quiggin, an academic who writes for Crikey, has had his blog blocked on Queensland government computers because of his “questioning the LNP government’s analysis of the budget and public sector employment”. As Quiggin did so very well here.
We checked out this outrageous and undemocratic suppression of criticism and found it was not the case. Quiggan reports that his blog was hacked a while ago and there is still a problem enabling the Queensland’s government’s anti-virus service to allow the blog.