So I found out via a phonecall on Friday that my newspaper column would be axed.
The force of emotions that came after I’d hung up the phone was unexpected.
It was all unexpected actually, having been pursued by News Ltd for two years before I agreed to resign from Fairfax (where I had been writing a column for 10 happy years) and with the news coming less than halfway through my contract.
Despite the different things I do for work, I have always considered myself foremost a writer. I love to write and I particularly love writing columns. It’s always been a rare privilege to have a blank page in a newspaper each week with complete freedom to write whatever I want.
That kind of platform and privilege is one that I have never taken for granted.
Still, I didn’t see it coming. But I should have.
Why should I be immune from the cost-cutting that’s slicing a swathe through the print media due in no small part to the rise in online media?
There are journalists far more talented and experienced than me who have found themselves on the wrong side of the balance sheet.
I’m not the first (not even today) and there will be many more to leave print…….
But I also understand this is not just about cost cutting. I’ve heard for some time now that there are some at News Ltd not happy about the idea of their newspapers promoting me and Mamamia, who they now view as competition to some of their business interests – particularly online and magazines. Thus the ‘new strategy’ I hear will soon be implemented for more internal cross promotion.
Fair enough. Business is business and they must look after their own. On a commercial level I understand that. On a personal one however, it’s harder….
When I was told the news, I was given the opportunity to ‘control the message’ about why my column would no longer appear. That basically means News Ltd would allow me to come up with some plausible story about needing to concentrate exclusively on Mamamia or to spend more time with my family or pursue other interests or one of the other cliches you so often hear when someone leaves their job.
In this case, all of that is actually true. Mamamia is flourishing and growing at a relentless pace. We are expanding into new and exciting ventures – taking on the challenge of a radio show which delights a new audience daily and a shopping website which will promote the positive body image message I’m so deeply passionate about.
And my family! It’s true that I’ve been juggling too much for too long and for some time and my husband Jason (who is also MM’s CEO) and I have spoken about the need for me to pull back from other commitments to focus on our business.
I have been feeling overwhelmed often.
But while I could have spun some story that made me look better, I’m not going to pretend closing the door on newspapers was my idea.
I’m not going to pretend my column wasn’t axed. I’m not going to pretend that I’m not sad to be leaving newspapers in the same way hundreds of other journalists have this year. I‘m not going to pretend I wasn’t surprised and disappointed.
Sugar-coating the truth has never been my style. Neither has presenting some perfect, glossy image of my life.
I have more respect for the people who read what I write than to ‘spin’ this.
Please know: I’m not fishing for sympathy or reassurance by writing this post, that’s not what this is. I just wanted to be honest about why my column will no longer appear in the newspaper after I finish up in a few months.
The news has started to trickle out so I wanted to confirm it on the record.
A few days after the initial shock, I’m feeling far more sanguine now and am actually excited about the renewed focus this will give me for Mamamia.
I’m trying to be glass half full and I’m pretty much succeeding although there have been a few tears shed, I’ll be honest.
After 20 years working in the print media, it seems like the perfect time to commit that last remaining 10% of my time and energy into online where my true passion lies. Which means you will be seeing a lot more of my writing right here, on Mamamia. Where I belong.