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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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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