To: Mr Tony Thomas
From: Quadrant OnLine Editor
Really, how could you write that note to poor Anne Summers, pretending to be a wealthy potential donor to her new magazine! As if we don’t have enough grief already at Quadrant and Quadrant Online, what with the Literature Board slashing our handout from $50,000 to $20,000, and strong women hooting and hollering for my blood. Now that you’ve gone and riled her, she has devoted page 45 of her latest online magazine to your mischief.
Right from the get-go, I want you to know you won’t be paid for your next article, just as no Quadrant Online contributor is paid. But this time you won’t be paid with extreme prejudice. That’s how seriously I take this matter.
Second, I intend to recruit whoever did the subbing and proofing for Summers’ latest edition and put that person in charge of processing your work. It will serve you right to see your copy peppered with typos like “new York”, “We are relying on your, our readers, to finance us” or this example of the sub-editor’s art:
Honestly, I don’t need more grief like this:
It was very difficult to resist the temptation to respond that, yes, 30 years ago, I did work for Fairfax in New York, but I never presided over Ms magazine’s near-death experience. Nor did I disappont investors by so misjudging the market for teen mag Savvy that religious Americans, of whom there are many, launched a ruinous advertiser boycott.
Tony, Ms Summers deserves an apology. She has had her face on a stamp. She is invited to appear on Q&A. She is important to people who bestow such honours, and her time is precious. Has an admirer ever cast your horoscope? Worse, the time devoted to baring and sharing your correspondence quite possibly prevented her writing yet another memoir of her abortion. Or she might even have had a spare moment to re-visit her pro-choicer’s insight that “not all adoption stories have such seemingly happy endings”, or why Tony Abbott was an anti-abortion bastard in 2005 and is an even bigger one today.
I will conclude with some career advice. The ABC is very fond of Ms Summers – even to the extent, as you noted, of turning one of its radio shows into a fund-raiser on her behalf. If you can get back into her good graces, she might even put in a good word and help to land you a better-paid, undemanding job there.
Quadrant Online editor and long-ago Sun-Herald hack