New blood was one of the reasons cited for News Limited CEO John Hartigan’s departure to make room for Foxtel’s Kim Williams, a man with a very different management style more suited to take on the challenges of the digital area.
Good to see then, as Hartigan’s soon-to-fade Twitter alter ego @BigHarto quipped, “some fresh blood in the chairman’s role” — that’d be Rupert Murdoch.
Not that we’re ageist. After all, as Paul Barry notes in The Power Index today:
… the other big story inside the bunker is that the Sun King is shining brighter than last year, when he was so tired he had to go to bed half way through dinner. “He’s really invigorated,” The Power Index was told. “He’s talking louder, he’s hearing better, he’s sitting down with the editors and pulling the papers apart; he’s going through circulation figures and comparing them with the opposition, he’s really on top of things.”
That should satisfy the ever-increasing numbers of dissatisfied News shareholders and anyone at all concerned with the corporate governance issues thrown up by, oh you know, that whole UK palaver. As Guy Rundle writes today: “… weeks after the organisation appeared to hit its nadir — with Rupert Murdoch having a grovelling meeting with the parents of Milly Dowler, the murdered teenager whose mobile his News of the World hacks hacked — the organisation again is in the spotlight, for the intimidation and surveillance of lawyers representing people who’ve had their phones hacked, and are taking legal action against News Corp.” Just ahead of James, son of, taking the stand at the ongoing Leveson Inquiry, that is.
Media watchers have questioned what effect the News of the World fallout will have on Rupert’s succession plan. But as this fresh Vanity Fair story outlines, that’s not to say he has any plans to throw a rug over his knees and take up residence on the porch any time soon …
One of his former executives has recounted how, when Rupert was 76 and had just completed his acquisition of Dow Jones and The Wall Street Journal, someone gingerly raised the topic of succession. Rupert visibly stiffened when the proposed time frame was 10 years. He shook his head. The discussion shifted to 20 years. He furrowed his brow. Then, finally, it moved to 30 years. He seemed to relax. Yes, 30 years seemed like a reasonable time horizon, when he would be 106. Rupert’s mother, Dame Elisabeth, is 102 and still alive and vigorous. Until the phone-hacking scandal hit — “These kinds of things take years off your life,” one of his executives told me — he seemed to many who worked with him almost immortal.
And haunting Kim Williams for many years to come.
|Every Thursday, Crikey editor Sophie Black and Crikey‘s Canberra correspondent Bernard Keane will talk the week’s events in the national capital. Visit the podcast page on our website (or via iTunes) at 4pm AEST to download or stream.|