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.