NBR is quite rightly behind a paywall but I hope that Mr Colman won’t mind me quoting this brief report:
The popular Sunday Star-Times column by the enigmatic Steve Braunias has been axed from the pages of its Sunday magazine supplement and the departing columnist hasn’t held back from hacking into his former boss.
Sunday Star-Times editor David Kemeys said Mr Braunias’ last column would run on February 5 and seemed nonplussed at the high-profile departure.
“Columnists come and columnists go,” he said. Mr Kemeys was unwilling to elaborate on the reasons for Mr Braunias’ sudden exit. “That’s private between us and Steve,” he said.
”No it’s not,” said Mr Braunias.
He said Kemeys had been wanting to rid the column for some time, and that a mutually abusive email correspondence between Mr Braunias and a reader precipitated the departure.
Mr Braunias said of Mr Kemeys: “Editors come and editors go. I expect the paper will soon enough despatch the mediocre hack back to where he came from, which I understand is nowhere.”
The loss of a column is unlikely to leave the mercurial Mr Braunias with nothing to do.
In addition to regular features in North & South and Metro, he is a panellist on TV books show The Good Word, editor in residence at Wintec in Hamilton [no, that was 2010 and doesn’t roll over to 2011 – SS], and last year received a $35,000 grant from Copyright Licensing to publish New Zealand: The Biography.
Steve’s a good guy: he’s from the Mount and I’m from Tauranga so we semi-share our turangawaewae. But from what I understand, he called the reader in question the C-word. Possibly justified, possibly not. But the first rule of journalism in my book is that you don’t insult the reader. Even if they write in green ink.
On the positive side, now that Steve is no longer writing the column, perhaps he will turn his energies and attention to completing the novel for which in 2009 he received $20,000 from the Buddle Findlay Sargeson Fellowship and five months of solo residence in the Sargeson flat in Albert Park. I lived there briefly – it’s a nice flat and very conducive to writing. I hope to see Steve on Monday in Auckland so, as I always do when I see him, I will cheerily ask how the novel is going.
Footnote: The Auckland occasion is former Quote Unquote contributor Tim Wilson in conversation with Noelle McCarthy about his novel Their Faces Were Shining, which is really, really good. Everyone is invited as long as you let Lily know you are coming.
Page 8 of today’s Herald on Sunday has the full email exchange between columnist and reader, for those interested. Main story here, emails only in the paper paper.