Jan 28, 2016

Age newsroom revolt ends Latham column before it begins

Mark Latham's would-be column for The Age in Melbourne seems to have crashed and burned before take-off.

Myriam Robin — Media Reporter

Myriam Robin

Media Reporter

Mark Latham's new gig as a columnist at The Age is over before it even began, with news filtering out to Age journos on Thursday that the column would not be going ahead. The idea was first aired in Monday's Media Diary column in The Australian, to the startled dismay of many Fairfax journalists, who have been up in arms about it ever since. Crikey understands that all week, Age editor-in-chief Andrew Holden has been approached by journalists within the newsroom, including some very senior figures, who argued against the column. Latham, for those living under a rock, used to be a well-read and longstanding columnist with Age stablemate The Australian Financial Review, until BuzzFeed revealed in August that a Twitter account linked to his personal email address had been abusing then-Australian of the Year Rosie Batty. It followed persistent and growing concerns about the subject matter and style of Latham's writings; the former Labor leader had turned his attention away from Labor and its faceless men to focus his attacks on "left feminism", which he described as "akin to a psychoneurotic disorder". He was, in fact, sued for defamation by Lisa Pryor, a columnist with Good Weekend, which runs in The Age, after he used his AFR column to criticise her in highly personal terms. Latham's reputation may have been damaged, but his career hasn't been. He picked up a gig last year as a regular panelist on Channel Nine's The Verdict (which was renewed for this year), and last week, was given his own show on Triple M. His new Age column would have signalled a significant career comeback, but it was a step too far for The Age newsroom. Crikey understand the idea of employing Latham as a columnist originated in the commentary desk, but was approved by Holden. When it was reported in the Oz, parts of the newsroom requested and got a meeting with Holden to discuss the column. It's understood in the meeting, Holden initially defended Latham's writing and the questions it raises, but he later bowed to the opinion of his journalists. Nothing formal was ever announced to the newsroom, with the campaign against the column largely going on behind the scenes. Crikey is uncertain whether or not a formal contract between Latham and The Age had ever been signed. But some facts about the column have filtered out. It's understood the column, the first edition of which would have run this coming Monday, would have run only in The Age, and would not even have appeared on the website of The Sydney Morning Herald. Age journalists have speculated that's because SMH editor Darren Goodsir wanted little to do with it. On social media, many Fairfax journalists, particularly those at the SMH or in Canberra, were dismissive of the column. Behind the scenes, so were many Age journalists, some of whom questioned Latham's relevance to Melbourne readers. "It's proof The Age's website is going downmarket for hits," one told Crikey, questioning why the newspaper would hire someone whose columns had caused Fairfax so much controversy. According to the AFR, Latham's decision to leave the Fin was entirely his own. AFR editor-in-chief Michael Stutchbury sang his praises on the way out, describing Latham as a "provocative and highly readable columnist".

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13 thoughts on “Age newsroom revolt ends Latham column before it begins

  1. paddy

    Amazing that it apparently took a large number of The Age journalists, to save management from kicking a spectacular own goal.
    Huge sighs of relief all around.

  2. Kevin Herbert

    Censorship by Fairfax journos…why am I not surprised.

  3. Peter Ciscas

    Any critique of rampant left field feminism is certainly not an own goal. I would call it much needed balance so sadly lacking at all levels of political and social endeavour.

    Would it be just a coincidence that most Age journalists with the exception of perhaps the business writers are pro extreme feminism? There in lies your reason.

  4. Meep

    Yeah, how dare those Age journalists wanting women to be treated as human beings equal to men and not punching bags. The cheek!

  5. Kevin Herbert

    Note to Meep:

    It’s always considered as good idea not to shoot a pistol before you get it out of the holster.

    That said, you might like to let us know where Latham has promoted the idea that women should be “punching bags’.

    Free speech must be protected.

  6. Norman Hanscombe

    Surely he’s more than suitable for a Capitalist entity such as Crikey? There was a time when you employed quality analysts such as Christian Kerr, but that’s long past, isn’t it.

  7. AR

    Kev & ilk – perhaps something like madmarky’s “wife bashing as a coping mechanism”?
    Let the arsehole rant & rave but why would the Age so lower its tone?
    Surely the Terrorgra[ph will snap him up?

  8. wo ei nee

    I guess there are men who actually hate women but I just have n’t met them yet. To apply misogyny within a context of the many different family and gender issues is that bridge too far.

    A peep over the parapet at the root causes of these issues and see the elephant in the room.

    Surely modern day life pressures: insane rents and mortgages, unemployment, rates and taxes, the great gender divide, hex fees, lack of genuine spiritual direction monopolized by apostate religion, are just a few but all contributing to the breakdown of the ( mainly aimed at the male ) family unit. When you start pulling the bedrock of society from underneath our feet then up goes the pressures of modern day living. Something has to give.

    But people think these pressures are normal and part of living a normal life. It aint, but it’s imposed as if it is.

    It’s ridiculous to take single issues and hoist them up the flag pole as a cure-all while ignoring the herd of elephants in the room. All this does is play into the hands of every social engineer worth their salt.

  9. John Newton

    Here’s a couple of hypotheticals to all the closet misogynists attacking feminism.

    1. Just imagine Mitchell Pearce were Mildred Pearce, and had done the same things. You reckon a – Mildred – would have got off with a smack on the wrist and a suspension appears to be about to happen to Mitchell?

    2. If one man a week was killed by his wife as is happening now the other way around, do you reckon there might be a bit of an outcry? For example, a poor young man dies after being king hit by an idiot in the Cross and the law changes!

    Mr Latham, whose first book I admired and enjoyed, has gone, well, batty. And he really doesn’t deserve a pulpit for his repuslive views.
    and wo ei nee, if you haven’t met a misogynist, you really haven’t been paying attention.

  10. David Brooks

    Now I know why I only buy The Age on Thursday – for The Green Guide.

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