From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Fairfax to go half-tabloid … Strong word from inside Fairfax Media is that the plan to convert the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age to tabloid size has foundered, and that the Saturday editions of those papers will continue to be broadsheet (with the existing tabloid sections staying as tabloid). This would result in the papers having two separate identities — tabloids on weekdays, broadsheet on Saturdays. The switch to tabloid was originally slated for March this year.

… as foreign gigs are shuffled. Is Paul McGeough, Sydney Morning Herald chief correspondent, leaving Washington to report full time from the Middle East? We hear it’s happening and the Walkley winner will be based in Beirut. It’ll be interesting to see how the work gets divvied up with Middle East correspondent Ruth Pollard, who’s based in Jerusalem. Many at Fairfax are happy as they think it’s been a waste of resources having two correspondents based in Washington. McGeough hasn’t responded to our query yet.

Pollie spotting. Crikey likes to keep up with what our esteemed politicians do on their holidays. One mole had a brush with Bob Katter, busy touring the country to establish a new force in Australian politics:

“I spotted BobKat on a Qantas Flight to Melbourne last Friday night. Perfectly comfortable flying economy with the voters, he took the opportunity to have a quick snooze.”

Seen a pollie taking a break? Drop us a line.

Thanks for nothing. Someone’s unhappy at Victoria’s Department of Business and Innovation:

“Staff have been asked what they thought of the secretary’s end of year/Christmas message. The catch? There was no message. No thanks for the hard work in tough times, no encouragement for those left after losing 100 jobs across the department, no rousing words for the new year.”

Our grumpy mole reckons senior staff are “swapping suits for old blunnies and tracksuit pants and hiding away on the top floor”. Tracksuit pants! How gauche, even for January when the Minister might not be around. The Crikey bunker has a strict “no tracksuit pants” policy.

God on your Weet-Bix. Faith-based discrimination has made a stir this week, after ex-Fairfax luminary David Marr returned to his old stomping ground to lash Julia Gillard for turning a blind eye to religious groups hiring or firing on the basis of their values.

So how much of this actually goes on in the workplace? Crikey knows of one: Santiarium, which is owned by the Seventh-day Adventist Church, says in its job ads that prospective Weet-Bix makers must “align with our Christian based principles”. Have you noticed any other classifieds that ask if you go to church? Fill us in.

*Heard anything that might interest Crikey? Send your tips to [email protected] or use our guaranteed anonymous form.

Peter Fray

Fetch your first 12 weeks for $12

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