Jul 23, 2013

‘Technobabble mumble-fuck’: Akerman stars in News e-stoush

Things are getting testy as News Corporation's grizzled old hacks learn to adapt to new online publishing technology. Crikey has the bitchy email chain.

Matthew Knott

Former Crikey media reporter

An amusingly bitchy email chain has exposed the simmering tensions within News Corp Australia over the introduction of a new content management system. Daily Telegraph veteran Piers Akerman stars in the e-stoush, obtained by Crikey, as does Courier-Mail political editor Dennis Atkins. News Corp Australia is rolling out its new Eidos Méthode system -- which allows reporters to do their own headline writing and page layout -- at its newspapers across the country. As expected, there has been a glut of technical glitches and some hacks are struggling to cope with the change. So News Corp digital guru Peter Judd has been sending out "Methode live updates" to give staffers troubleshooting advice. His 49th "live update", sent on Monday, covered how to avoid "Tansa crashes", restore disappearing summaries, and search and purge in the system.

But his colourful memo -- "I have it on good authority that jiggle is a technical term" -- didn't go down well with all recipients. Insiders regular Atkins fired back:
"Why send out notices that no one who has a rational brain can understand?"
Daily Telegraph conservative crusader and News Corp veteran Piers Akerman waded in with a probing question:
"Did anyone with any editorial experience put Methode through the same scrutiny given to Atex and Cyber before it was purchased?"
That prompted a reply from Courier-Mail columnist Paul Syvret:
"I have no idea. I rarely attempt to read the updates as I don't speak that sub dialect of incomprehensible technobabble mumble-f-ck."
News Queensland managing editor Sue McVey -- perhaps destined for a role in the diplomatic corps -- tried to douse the flames:
"That's enough I think chaps! Mind your manners and your language."
Perth Sunday Times editor Rod Savage was also incensed by Syvret's spray:
"Dear me. This from someone who describes themselves as a 'cat whisperer' on Twitter. It's only technobabble if you don't attempt to understand it. I'd recommend reading the updates and absorbing them and if you don't understand, ask. It is not being too dramatic to say our collective future depends on collective understanding and enthusiasm. I wholeheartedly trust the journalistic pedigree of Peter Judd and the huge team of excellent journos who have led and contributed to this program. It is setting a global benchmark. "Please get on board. Rod."
But Akker Dakker was only getting started. He fired back at McVey:
"Thank you for the handy reminder on etiquette but what about the issue?"
As for Savage, he said:
"Unnecessarily catty, aren't we?"
And that's where it ended. At least for now. But if the brawlers want to continue copying in dozens of colleagues to their delightful barney we'll be happy to publish another gripping instalment.

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9 thoughts on “‘Technobabble mumble-fuck’: Akerman stars in News e-stoush

  1. Edward James

    In the meantime sales of dead tree editions keep falling. Advertising revenue is hard to get without prostituting the paper by running support stories for advertisers. Government access is so important journalist are not willing to look too deeply into what government dish up. Edward James

  2. Jason King

    “I have no idea. I rarely attempt to read the updates as I don’t speak that sub dialect of incomprehensible technobabble mumble-fuck.”

    Possibly the best thing ever written by anyone at the Courier Mail. Outstanding.

  3. Mark from Melbourne

    ” It is setting a global benchmark.”

    What would be good is if you did a series on stupid decisions by newspaper management that are primary cause of their diminishing act as businesses. It’s the story that keeps on giving and not restricted to Fairfax.

    Spending $60mill on a new bit of software to achieve pretty much exactly the same as the existing software does would be up there for dumb moves.

  4. Alex

    These emails bring me heartfelt joy! I do hope they’re ongoing. They might end up having a bigger readership than their papers! It would certainly lift their integrity levels.

  5. pretorius3

    Piers Akerman is one of those people who covers his ignorance by being rude (and yet the ABC seems to regularly have him on “Insiders” to be balanced).

    Having had a dose of him can we now please have a story about another email chain – specifically those ones that the ill-Liberal Party uses to distribute hate and fear about refugees?

    Perhaps they’ve been reported on extensively already, but I haven’t seen the reports.

  6. pretorius3

    Actually, just read the article now. Thanks. Syvret has just reignited my almost-extinguished confidence in the honesty and independence of Murdoch journalists.

  7. Edward James

    Bitchy email chain? Excuse me Matt, but just what is the “bitchy crikey email” chain? Some subscribers like me are in the crikey electronic loop, yet we remain mystified. I notice pretorius3 Posted Sunday, 28 July 2013 at 6:52 pm | PERMALINK Has ejaculated. But you should feel free to write something of substance in support of your own political position. or alternately ring 0243419140 Edward James who is very worried Labor could be re elected edward james 023419140 try the number it is a lot better value than ringing your local politician!

  8. pretorius3

    So Edward (No 7), you’re writing to criticize me for the lack of substance in my post?

    That would be the post where I bemoan the appearance of a certain conservative in public places, because he tries to cover his ignorance with rudeness and insulting language that really doesn’t add anything to current debate, but only lowers the tone of conversation in what is otherwise a forum of enlightenment and wit.

  9. Edward James

    Nothing personal pretorius. I am guilty of being to cryptic myself. It comes from trying to work around the moderator I suppose. I must have really had a big drink when I wrote 7 As I published my phone number twice. It would be really great if some politicians came on these crikey strings and identified themselves. Well I can still dream. Anyway Pretorius3 sorry about that. I miss the Stephen Mayne Crikey. BTW the phone number is there because Crikey has its limits on what it will publish. Edward James

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