Aug 21, 2014

Crikey’s intrepid reporter meets the News Corp CEO

Julian Clarke had "a very interesting day" yesterday -- and today was gracious enough to speak to a Crikey reporter without throwing anything.

Margot Saville — <em>Crikey</em> Sydney reporter

Margot Saville

Crikey Sydney reporter

"Hello, I'm from Crikey" is probably not the best way to introduce yourself to the chief executive of News Corp, Julian Clarke, the day after his company had starred on these pages. Clarke, a 30-year veteran of the company, had just been on a panel of newspaper CEOs at the 2014 Future Forum industry conference, put on by newspaper body Newspaper Works. Clarke, Fairfax head Greg Hywood, APN News and Media head Michael Miller and West Australian Newspapers boss Chris Wharton had all been discussing the future of newspapers. (So we had four white, middle-aged men talking about the future of an industry with an uncertain outlook -- can we spot the problem? According to my fellow tweeters, there are only three female speakers during the  two-day conference.) First question from MC Russel Howcroft was to Clarke, asking him about the Crikey stories. Clarke, a youthful 74, appeared unconcerned. "I'm not too worried about what was published yesterday," he said, adding that "yesterday was a very interesting day". He repeated his statements from yesterday, saying that the documents were 14 months old and that things had been improving in the current financial year. Although no one could be in any doubt about the "headwinds" newspapers were facing, he said, all the "trend lines" he was responsible for were going up. Afterwards, at an impromptu doorstop, I told Clarke I was from Crikey and he said he was going to take away my notebook, which he did! I said he was welcome to it, I'd bought it from Officeworks, and he could keep it. As there were three other journos standing there, he handed it back with a rather unconvincing laugh. I asked him about the future of The Australian newspaper and how long the rest of the empire would continue to subsidise the loss-making publication. The Oz was a superb asset, he said, and any company would be proud to own it. But what about the shareholders, I asked. Are they happy to support continuous losses? His answer was emphatically positive -- of course they would. The figures published by Crikey were out of date, he repeated to our small group of journalists. So could he possibly enlighten us by publishing more up-to-date figures, I asked? The answer was no.  As the CEO of a publicly listed company, did he feel that News Corp had fully complied with its continuous disclosure obligations to the Australian Stock Exchange, I asked. Yes, of course it had, he said, before deciding he'd had enough.

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6 thoughts on “Crikey’s intrepid reporter meets the News Corp CEO

  1. paddy

    LOL Go Margot.
    Can there be anything more terrifying to an old, white privileged male, than a smarter and younger woman, asking awkward questions?

    Watching the reactions online from News Corp to that “impertinent pigmy” called Crikey, has been a joy to behold.

  2. Kevin Herbert

    Great the Graham Perkin mould…go Crikey!!!

  3. Margot Saville

    Thank you paddy

  4. rhwombat

    That’s got to be a stock photo of Clarke – there’s not enough snarl, or blood, for it to be of the Head Murdorch. Keep being a real journalist, Margot.

  5. Margot Saville

    thanks all of you!

  6. 2bobsworth

    News Corp Chief plays down red ink” SMH Business Fri 22 August 2014
    “…The Australian …it is the most influential newspaper in this country without any doubt.”
    Just how much influence can you buy for $30M. Very cheap for a controlling interest in a G20 Govt. Especially when News Corp shareholders punt the bill to support a foreign owner’s alter ego.

    The SMH ran an article on “The Australian” running routinely at a huge loss, “Losses Unlimited for News. SMH Business. Thurs 21Aug’14. Which concludes with; When he (Rupert Murdoch) goes… the new guy will probably say, “Why are we doing this?”
    Well, apart from Climate Scepticism, Cross Media Law change, NBN nobbling, Political largesse , Americanisation of worker conditions, vested interest and Corporate lobbying etc,etc.)
    I suggest the losses could be recognised as political lobby donations in proportion to “the fair and balanced” contribution to each of the major political party’s policies.
    News Corp. Shareholders could be then be proud owners of their share of the donations foregone.
    Unfortunately, the shareholders may not see self inflicted Vanity Debt as a reasonable investment.
    All of “Team Abbott” is now dutifully working on behalf of “Team Australian” for plan B, “Team Fox” .
    This will replace the ailing print media with Rupert’s hallmark “Outrage” TV Channel, Fox, to give the Libertarian 1% Loopy Group, IPA a platform for ” Think Team Rupert”
    You have been warned.

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