sky was mean, grey and low. When I went down to the Brushtail Café
at 6 o'clock, looking for a little cheer, all I found was Mike, the
journalist from the Sydney Morning Herald, who was nursing a
beer and looking glum.
the scribbling trade?" I asked, just to be social.
Herald isn't a very happy place at the moment. We've got a new editor."
read that they'd taken Paul McGeough out the back and made him an offer
he couldn't refuse -- roving reporter in New York -- and they've brought
in a management fixer called Robert Whitehead to edit the thing. What
happened? I mean, McGeough was the blue-eyed boy for a while there ...
rammed through the Big Redesign, and all that."
fact is the Herald lost money during the Olympics. We expanded our coverage
but there wasn't the extra advertising to support it. The rumour goes
that when it was over, the big boys wanted to put in even more advertising
and cut the editorial content back further but McGeough resisted, and
he paid the price. They reckon he was shell-shocked."
my heart bleeds", I muttered. "So the bugger falls out of
favour and he gets an all-expenses paid trip to New York. They'll probably
pay him about a hundred and fifty thousand a year, plus flat, etcetera,
etcetera, for which he'll probably be expected to file a couple of dozen
stories a year. Nice work if you can get it, but how many writers can
they have in the US of A? It's getting a bit crowded. They already have
Gay Alcorn and Jennifer Hewitt over there.
I heard a different rumour", said Joadja, who was polishing glasses
behind the bar. "According to which, star reporter Margo Kingston
was keen on the Paul Reith Phonecard story but big chief political supremo
Michelle Grattan wasn't. Anyway, the story goes that McGeough championed
the Kingston line, but the Herald's senior figures came under incredible
pressure from the Federal Government to kill the story so McGeough ...
had to go, as they say."
cares?" I muttered, taking a swig of cider. "McGeough implemented
this ghastly 'redesign'. I hate it. It's a triumph of trendy designer
wank over content. All those silly white spaces and acres of unjustified
copy. It's a waste of space, and it ... lacks, well ... authority. I'd
noticed I got through the paper quicker, but apparently there's fully
25 per cent less space for editorial since the Great Redesign."
we've been hit by a circulation crisis of our own own making",
Mike said. "Sales of the Saturday Herald have declined by something
like two and a half per cent since we started publishing the Financial
Review on Saturday.
then there's the lurch to the right. For God's sake, Once we had just
one resident confusionist -- Paddy McGuinness himself. Now there are
four Paddies: there's the original Paddy, there's Paddy on Acid (that's
Imre Salusinszky), Paddy in Drag (Bettina Arndt) and Paddy on Prozac
you reckon McGeough's on easy money? What about Salusinszky. Scuttlebut
has it that they pay him a thousand dollars a week just to write that
silly column on Mondays. He's only got one point to make: he hates economic
wets. He's a fanatical free market fundamentalist. He rehashes this
every Monday. Then he insults about a dozen people from the entertainment
industry, or the media, or his collegues at the Herald. I mean, about
75 per cent of all Australians and about 85 per cent of the intelligentsia
oppose market fundamentalism to one degree or another, so he can almost
select names out of a hat. Not a bad little earner for a bloke who's
been sucking on the public tit at Newcastle University for years."