The Age newspaper is in fully-fledged crisis-mode this morning amid wild speculation that its editor-in-chief Paul Ramadge will be removed, given a corporate job in Sydney, and replaced by outgoing Daily Telegraph editor Garry Linnell.
Others ominously speculate about a senior role for Bruce Guthrie who enjoys as much in common with middle Australia as Prince Charles, possibly less so.
The besieged flash Fairfax premises â€œMedia Houseâ€ could become an expensive echo-filled ghost town with other rumours that profitable parts of the empire, like Fairfax Radioâ€™s 3AW will be sold to Sydney patriot John Singleton.
This will almost certainly mean the closing of excellent Melbourne radio station MTR, although with its best and brightest like Steve Price and Andrew Bolt moving across to 3AW as all-conquering representatives of the new owner. Weâ€™re sure theyâ€™ll handle the vanquished with sensitivity.
Ramadge spent all of last week, it is said, in Sydney, playing an active role in the decision to axe nearly 100 sub-editors and a total of 300 staff in an unprecedented cull. While universally regarded as an untalented hack and hopeless editor, he is seen by Fairfax boss Greg Hywood as a loyal company man and worthy of keeping in their cart for as long as it can steer away from the cliff.
VEXNEWS yesterday visited The Age for a fraternal latte in their coffee pit yesterday and while we were lucky enough to score a picture of Ramadge meeting with union reps, our gloat parade was quickly rained on by the tears of the mainly female staff crying into their fair trade brews. No-one likes to see unemployment foisted on even the most culturally deserving and we left before feeling inclined to pick up a â€œSave Our Subsâ€ placard at todayâ€™s first planned stopwork meeting.
The tales of woe, the injustice of hearing about losing your job by email, the shock, the sudden change of direction, the â€œI was sick of working here anyway but this is just horribleâ€ all left us feeling very bleak indeed. We hope all involved find honest work soon enough. Pagemasters â€œSlave-mastersâ€ beckons.
The Ageâ€™s self-indulgence, not just the change in the way things are advertised, is in no small way responsible for their inevitable decline. A change in culture, a broadening of who they represent, and what they stand for is what they needed long ago. Itâ€™s almost certainly too late for them now.
Yesterdayâ€™s treatment of the death of Osama bin Laden said it all.
The Herald Sunâ€™s poster â€œHow we got him.â€
The Ageâ€™s â€œHow they got him.â€
â€œWeâ€ are so very much looking forward to the end of â€œtheyâ€ even if their tears do make us sad. They canâ€™t wash away their shameful record, the lives theyâ€™ve tried to ruin, our nationâ€™s enemies theyâ€™ve cheered on, the values of indulgence, sanctimony and preachiness theyâ€™ve so long embodied.
It would have been nice to keep a second newspaper in Melbourne but not one like this. We donâ€™t wish unemployment on even the most smug and unpleasant but it really is time this newspaper at sea was given the burial it so richly deserves.