Col Allan didn’t oust Kim Williams from the top job at News Corp Australia, although the return of the tabloid terror at Holt Street no doubt had the urbane opera-lover reaching for the ripcord.

And the ongoing and intractable challenges at the nation’s most powerful media enterprise — fast-declining newspaper circulation, online business models that aren’t delivering — would ultimately have had little to do with the decision either; Williams cut the guts out of the cost base just as he was told to.

No, Williams walked — with a shove or two from Rupert Murdoch, his son Lachlan and a posse of newsroom loyalists — because he was always on borrowed time. He wasn’t a journalist. He wasn’t a newspaper man. He wasn’t a slavish Rupert/Lachlan lackey. And despite successfully steering Foxtel, shovelling money into the News Corp coffers, he was never in the company mould. Editors and grizzled newsroom hacks whispered about his unsuitability from the beginning. He didn’t understand print, they grumbled. He didn’t show loyalty to the old guard, they moaned. He didn’t get that special brand of News Corp culture that has cultivated as many journalists as it has threatened.

And so the dinosaurs roared. They ousted the new-age boss with funny designs on a digital future, bringing in another ex-print hack — company loyalist and almost-septuagenarian Julian Clarke — to appease them. The culture of News Corp lives on, just like those newspapers and their ageing readers.

For now.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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