The Age’s current editor Paul Ramadge is a regular on the Jon Faine show on Melbourne’s ABC radio. It’s normally a very cosy chat about the great issues of concern within Melbourne’s latte curtain.
A recent appearance turned into a chainsaw massacre as this transcript from The Australian reveals:
Anthea from Mt Eliza: I just wondered when youâ€™re going to get rid of Catherine Deveny.
Jon Faine: Because?
Anthea: I just donâ€™t think sheâ€™s right for The Age newspaper. I just think sheâ€™d be more suitable for a student newspaper or The BigIssue .
Paul Ramadge: No columnist in the recent history of The Age does this. Hate her or love her is the result for Catherine Deveny. She knows that and to a great extent she is the agent provocateur of the columnists in The Age . Sheâ€™s not appearing in The Age at the moment, I can tell you.
Faine: Would you mind telling us why?
Ramadge: Well, there are some discussions about is there a contract or not, and those are ongoing and itâ€™s not fair to go into any more detail than that.
Faine: Do you want to keep her?
Ramadge: Well itâ€™s a discussion moment, an ongoing discussion.
Faine: Is it about money only or is it about what she writes?
Ramadge: It started still sits on theissue of money.
Faine: Anthea, it seems they’re trying to keep her.
Anthea: I donâ€™t like what she writes and I donâ€™t think she represents Age stands for.
Faine: Well, just donâ€™t read it then.
Anthea: Well, Iâ€™ve actually just switched to The Australian.
Faine: Claire from Eltham . . . hi Claire.
Claire: I want to ask the editor why the education section of The Age has transformed from an excellent lift-out section into two pages of not particularly serious articles and one page of ads.
Ramadge: Letâ€™s be clear, The Age is committed to education but what we have done is to go into multimedia publishing.
Claire: As a teacher-educator, I am very disappointed. What the editor has just said isnâ€™t true. Iâ€™ve been reading The Age my whole life and it just looks like cost cutting. The Age on Monday was so thin, I thought: why am I paying my subscription for this piece of paper, which also contains so much advertising that I just chuck away?
Faine: Iâ€™m glad you mentioned that, Claire. We had someone knock on the door the other day and offer to give us a subscription to The Age for the price of the weekend paper. Seven days a week for the price of Saturday and Sunday. Paul, is that how youâ€™re getting subscribers now?
Ramadge: Itâ€™s always been the case that you have a mixture of subscription offers.
Faine: But youâ€™re giving the paper away Monday to Friday for nothing.
Ramadge: No, not really at all. What you could say is that thereâ€™s a discounted price for home subscribers who we value immensely . . .
Faine: But we were offered seven days a week for the price of Saturday and Sunday, which means youâ€™re giving away Monday to Friday for nothing.
Ramadge: Well, you can get a seven-day-a-week Age for $8 a week.
Faine: Thatâ€™s right.
Ramadge: And why that is . . .
Faine: No, it was less than $8 a week..
Ramadge: Then you were being offered a four-day-a-week subscription offer, which is different. At the end of the day we value our subscribers. They get a price benefit for being locked in as a subscriber and we see it as a positive. And itâ€™s why subscriptions have been growing. And to what extent that is giving it away, I donâ€™t think so. Itâ€™s discounting to suit the best customer.