Global fail: more journos gone. The crisis at beleaguered long-form journalism experiment The Global Mail continues to roll, with the confirmed termination of the position of star reporter Stephen Crittenden. Crittenden’s exit adds to a slew of front and back office redundancies following an “independent review” of the website’s operations — big names including journalist Gordon Weiss, Jess Hill, Sharona Coutts, Sarah-Jane Collins, Joel Tozer, Monica Attard and investigative intern Paul Farrell have all left or quit this year, taking the total number of editorial departures to nine. Just six editorial staff remain from Attard’s initial hiring round 12 months ago.

The close relationships among The Global Mail‘s remaining employee base continue to raise eyebrows. Newly-appointed deputy editor Sam Bungey is Telstra director Geoff Cousins’ stepson — Cousins worked closely with TGM funder Graeme Wood to stop the Gunns pulp mill. As Katrina Nicholls wrote in a cracking Weekend AFR piece in 2006, Michael Bungey’s friendship with Cousins ended abruptly when Michael’s ex-wife Darlene married Cousins. Bungey is also famous author Geraldine Brooks’ nephew, who lived for many years on Martha’s Vineyard with TGM editor Lauren Martin and her TGM writer hubby Mike Seccombe.

And as Crikey has previously reported, TGM‘s CEO Jane Nicholls is married to TGM politics scribe Bernie Lagan who took to Twitter to defend his wife’s “termination” of Hill, but was then promptly rebuffed by Hill herself. New board member Brooke Twyford, who conducted the review that led to the sackings, worked with Nicholls at Time in the US.

Crikey understands Hill has rejected an offer of a Sydney-based job and that redundancy negotiations are continuing this morning between management, the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance and the departed employees. (Clarification: This brief originally said that Latin American correspondent Nick Olle’s position was made redundant — he says he is still employed at TGM) Andrew Crook

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Where’s Tony? Kelly isn’t sure. On first glance, this morning’s Australian appeared to contain a cracking page one “EXCLUSIVE”. “Editor at large” Paul Kelly reported that Tony Abbott had “used his presence at an Australia-Israel-United Kingdom leadership dialogue in London to deepen his support for Israel and accentuate the split with the Gillard government over Middle East policy”.

Fair enough: Coalition wedges PM on Labor caucus’ squabbling over Palestine’s status at the UN, etc. The problem was Abbott wasn’t actually “present” during the speech at all. Readers had to wait to paragraph nine — buried in the story proper on page two — for the admission that Abbott’s “pre-prepared” oration was actually “read by Senator George Brandis in Mr Abbott’s absence”. And, given the Queen’s College alumnus’ recent form, he probably hadn’t cast an eye over it. Kelly, you see, had “interviewed” Abbott in a man-to-man tete-a-tete outside the dialogue. Glad we cleared that up. — Andrew Crook

Bumper watch: papers on holidays. One of Crikey‘s favourite end-of-year pastimes — aside from popping bon-bons, arguing with drunk rellies and gorging on ham — is to audit the Christmas bumper editions put out by newspapers to give journos (and their readers) a break. Leading the way, as always, is The Australian Financial Review, which today put out a 60-page jam-packed edition (plus inserts) for business junkies to haul down to the beach. Highlights, as outlined on the front page, include a profile of publishing dynamo Louise Adler and the year’s corporate winners and losers.

Those in need of a bit of business news and views with their turkey leftover sandwiches will have to ration the bumper edition until December 27 for their next fix. That’s 10 pages per day until then.

Meanwhile, the weekend has come early over at Fairfax stablemates The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, with both papers putting out “Weekend” and “Saturday” editions a day early. Sydney Fairfaxers will have until Christmas eve to get through their thickened-up edition, while Melbourne readers will apparently get a copy of The Sunday Age.

Taking the holiday spirit even further is South Australian-based rural paper the Plains Producer (circ: 3000), which told its readers on Wednesday that it will be back on January 16. Seasons greetings!