As Fairfax searches far and wide for a new CEO to replace Fred Hilmer,
the
ghosts of a past Fairfax CEO have returned to haunt the company.

Stephen
Mulholland, who was the first CEO appointed to Fairfax by its
then
new-owner Conrad Black in 1992, has provided a potted history of his
time
at
the Great Newspaper Company in a two-part outpouring on a South
African
website – perhaps as a backgrounder for the candidates being
approached
to replace Fred
Hilmer.

In his lengthy reflection, Mulholland writes of the job (“akin to pushing
a
large boulder up a steep hill with one’s nose”), the stroppy printers
(“who
knew their days were numbered and expressed their frustration in
charming
gestures such as dropping bolts between the cylinders as they ran”),
the
Fairfax journalists (“a more anarchic, spoiled and self-important mob I
have
not encountered before or since and trust I never will”), the board (“the
board
from hell”), and the competition (“The Telegraph… ran a piece claiming I had
been drunk in the lobby of the Ritz Carlton
where I was staying while waiting
for my wife to arrive… When I pointed out
to their chairman, a Murdoch skivvy
called Ken Someone, that I had not had a
drink in three months due to atrial
fibrillation he promised to have them run a
retraction. I await it yet”.).

Oh, and about Australians (“You’re an odd lot, you Aussies, tucked away in
your
remote little corner of the globe, stable, peaceful, prosperous, promising
and
safe… But you gaze at your navels too much… That’s why you’ve got
all
those bloody media outlets, thousands of journalists running around
with
nothing much to report on”.).

Read the Mulholland Chronicles here.

Get more Crikey, for less

It’s more than a newsletter. It’s where readers expect more – fearless journalism from a truly independent perspective. We don’t pander to anyone’s party biases. We question everything, explore the uncomfortable and dig deeper.

Join us this week for 50% off a year of Crikey.

Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
50% off