Speculation was rife around left-wing media circles last night that millionaire email newsletter editor Eric Beecher was set to offer sacked Age columnist Catherine Deveny a lifeline. Deveny was sacked after public outrage about her Logies night tweets, which were calculated to attract as much attention as possible. Deveny has been at war with The Age’s editor Paul Ramadge for some time and he had been looking for an excuse to sack his most expensive columnist, apparently the highest paid writer The Age has ever had on a per word basis.
Beecher edits the Crikey email newsletter which has been struggling to hang on to its staff due to the plundering of wry shiny-headed pirate-king Jonathan Green, who runs the ABCâ€™s opinion site The Drum or Unleashed or the Drum Unleashed or whatever itâ€™s called.
Green has systematically poached writers whoâ€™ve previously contributed to the email newsletter including lefty bloggers Mark Bahnisch, Greg Barns, Peter Brent and Scott Bridges. And theyâ€™re just the ones whose surnames start with â€˜Bâ€™. There are many more, who are being tempted by Greenâ€™s use of taxpayer lucre to write for his site not Beecherâ€™s email newsletter.
Media insiders say that Green has been tying up writers on arrangements that prevent them from contributing to competitive online vehicles. Beecher has reportedly sought legal advice about whether he could restrain Green or the ABC from continuing to work over Greenâ€™s own contact book.
The email newsletter has been losing subscribers and advertisers rapidly since Greenâ€™s departure, with it relying on the profitable Business Spectator offering that has built a business around ripping off the Australian Financial Review and offering the content for considerably less than the Finâ€™s four-figure subscription charge.
Beecher is understood to be greatly troubled about his former employee Green poaching his crew, with recent talk that Guy (pronounced â€˜Geeâ€™) Rundle had also been approached. Rundleâ€™s own checkered history with the ABC is thought to have made the move difficult. Rundle has burned more bridges than a Taliban torch-bearer with many at the ABC still talking about Rundle going unhinged while producing ABC Arts programming, ranting, screaming and throwing things.
Rundle â€“ much like Deveny â€“ can write but says nasty things in nasty ways. Rundle is convinced that a talent like his own could never be fully appreciated in Australia so spends a great deal of time overseas these days. Foreigners seem to have been slow to catch on to Rundle as well.
DEVO DEEDS DONE DIRT CHEAP
The email newsletter editor apparently believes that Green would not be able to hire Deveny due to the political backlash of using taxpayer funds to hire someone who writes indelicate things like she hoped Bindi Irwin (at 11 years old) got laid at the Logies. Beecher is not so constrained.
So it affords Beecher with an opportunity to get the high-priced comic writerÂ on the cheap, perhaps using some of the left-over funds that they used to pay to now-poached nags in the Green stable.
Sources familiar with the matter say that there could be talks as early as this week between Beecher, his assistant Sophie Black and Deveny in an attempt to quickly cash in on the furore involving Devenyâ€™s tweets and The Age sacking her.
Hiring Deveny could give Beecher the chance to one-up his former employers at The Age and his recalcitrant former employee Jonathan Green, insiders say.