Glenn Dyer and Stephen Mayne report from today’s Fairfax AGM:

Within hours of outgoing CEO Fred Himler standing down at 10am this morning, Chairman Ron Walker and new CEO David Kirk have given the strongest indication yet of a change of direction for the publishing giant after both hinted strongly at today’s AGM that Fairfax is planning something big on the internet.

About 60 journalists in white “Save Fairfax.com.au” T-shirts protested outside today’s meeting, including influential left-leaning SMH scribe and former Media Watch presenter David Marr. After the meeting started there was some heckling by staff, but the share options for David Kirk and the remuneration report were approved with more than 90 per cent of the vote. The meeting also seemed unconcerned over Fred Hilmer’s $4.5 million parting gift.

Stephen Mayne lost his bid to get onto the Fairfax board, polling a disappointing 7.75% of the vote (he averages 18%), following a blackout at today’s Fairfax AGM in Sydney. Just when the AGM was getting interesting, with Stephen Mayne’s election to the board about to be decided, out went the power at the Sheraton on the Park in the Sydney CBD. That meant the election of directors had to be conducted in the semi-gloom, illuminated by a few safety lights and Chairman Ron Walker’s large torch.

There was a massive charm offensive from Ron Walker on shareholder activist Jack Tilburn, who he kept calling “my good friend” – an interesting contrast to his attempts to cut off Mayne and accuse him of “self-aggrandisement” in standing for the board.

Mayne asked Walker a series of questions about his conflicts of interest, including a glowing review from James Packer who said his appointment as chairman was an “inspired choice,” in response to which Walker taked about his high regard for the Dame Elisabeth Murdoch and the Packers.

Walker also categorically ruled out plans to appoint Melbourne shock-jock Neil Mitchell as editor of The Age. And under questioning he said he had absolutely no involvement with the Liberal Party in a public, official or private capacity.