by Karl du Fresne from his blog

That worked out well, didn’t it?

Just six months ago, Stuff announced the appointment of Caitlin Cherry as editor of what was then The Dominion Post.

Both she and her new employer made rapturous noises. “We’re thrilled to have Caitlin leading our newsroom in the capital,” cooed Stuff’s Joanna Norris at the time. “She is a fierce advocate for the city and as a lifelong Wellingtonian, she is inherently aware of all that is newsworthy in the city and region.”

Not mentioned, unsurprisingly, was that Cherry was taking on the job with no previous experience in newspaper journalism. None.

Cherry, meanwhile, said she was looking forward to “working with the team to ask the big questions, look at the best solutions, and talk to those people who are doing all they can to make life better for the community.”

Now she’s gone – just like that. But you had to read the New Zealand Herald, Stuff’s main competitor, to find out. A leaked internal e-mail ended up in the hands of Shayne Currie, the Herald’s editor-at-large and media columnist (and many years ago a young and very savvy chief reporter of the old Evening Post, from which today’s Post got its name).

No surprises there. These days the Herald is often the first to break Wellington stories, which is itself a telling measure of the steady decline of a newspaper publisher that once, in the heyday of the Dominion and Evening Post, owned the city.

Why is Cherry going? That wasn’t clear from the e-mail to staff in which Bernadette Courtney, Stuff’s newsrooms editor-in-chief, lavished praise on the now ex-editor, saying she had made a “huge impact” and been a “champion for Wellington”.

Cherry’s energy, news judgment and passion for journalism would be missed, Courtney said. In that case, what happened to make her quit?

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