The British Invasion of news media. Michael Bloomberg has convinced the top dog of The Economist, the world’s premier business and political “newspaper”, to take the editorial reins at his financial data company. Bloomberg announced overnight that John Micklethwait, editor-in-chief of The Economist, will be replacing Matt Winkler, who created the Bloomberg News service for the group’s terminals almost 25 years ago.
It’s a move which will raise hackles among American journalists at the rising number of British media executives taking top jobs. Micklethwait joins former BBC head Mark Thompson who is running the New York Times Co; Gerard Baker, a former senior journalist with The Times and the Financial Times, who is now editor-in-chief of the Murdoch clan’s The Wall Street Journal; Will Lewis, another senior executive from The Telegraph in London and News International, who is now chief executive of the Murdochs’ Dow Jones and the former editor of ITV News Deborah Turness, who is now president of NBC News. Andrew Rashbass, a former chief executive of The Economist, now runs Canada’s Reuters News.
No doubt there will be a flurry of think pieces asking why American media giants can’t find their own leaders inside their companies or elsewhere in the US. Murdoch went to his two UK journalists and executives because he felt Dow Jones and The Wall Street Journal could do with a bit of fresh air and thinking from non-US journalists/executives, a move which seems to have worked — Thompson and Turness were hired to replace US executives. But Bloomberg was looking for a journalist untainted by scandal, and with the background as a globally orientated executive and not one with their roots totally in the US. Bloomberg News these days is probably the most global of all American news groups with bureaux and reporters in dozens of countries around the globe.
Winkler will remain at the company in the new role of editor-in-chief emeritus, Bloomberg said overnight, a job that will see him working directly with Mr Bloomberg, who has shaken up its leadership since deciding to return to the company he founded in 1981. The Economist said in a statement it expects to name a replacement by the end of January, so a lobbying Christmas for those at the top of that newspaper. — Glenn Dyer
Murdochs jettison more shares. The Murdoch clan continues to raise cash from selling some of their shares in the family companies — News Corp and 21st Century Fox. On Saturday morning, Sydney time, the patriarch Rupert Murdoch raised eyebrows by selling 3 million Class B voting shares in 21st Century Fox for just over US$108 million (around $140 million). This morning, son James was revealed to have sold 510,689 non-voting Class A shares in News Corp for just over US$9.5 million (around $11.5 million). He also disposed of 97,435 News Corp Class A shares (worth around $1.523 million) and 92,926 non-voting Class A shares in 21st Century Fox (valued at just over US$3.36 million), both for for nil consideration. No explanation was given as to why these smaller parcels were disposed of for no consideration.
On Friday night in the US, media reports said James Murdoch had agreed to buy dad Rupert’s Los Angeles home (but not the one in the LA hills with the winery) for a reported US$30+ million. The total market price for the sales of News Corp shares and the nil value share disposals (could they have been transferred to Rupert or a trust?) is around US$14.5 million, enough to fund the house purchase with a bit of finance from his own considerable salary and investments.
Rupert Murdoch arrives in Australia shortly — some say to spend Christmas here. If that’s the case, he’s going to be in Australia for more than a fortnight — enough time to terrorise the Abbott government, his editors and executives, crown a new CEO for News Corp Australia and, more importantly, oversee the bailing out of son Lachlan (and his co-chair of News Corp and Fox), from his disastrous Ten Network adventure.
Ten shareholders meet a week today in Sydney and if Murdoch is in town he could drop along to see how shareholders are treated compared to the offhanded and arrogant treatment handed out last month at the News Corp and Fox AGMs in Hollywood. Ten’s share price was unchanged at 22.5 cents yesterday in the near-market rout. The strength of the Ten share price yesterday tells us the mooted “deal” from Foxtel and Discovery is coming at around that price, or 23 cents per Ten share. The fix is in, as they say, and the deal is on the way. — Glenn Dyer
Silly season begins. It must be that time of year, because Australia’s major media outlets have already begun weighing up who first sensed the Abbott government’s first budget wasn’t entirely popular with the electorate. Fairfax yesterday published a fascinating piece on how newspaper editorials on the budget shifted as the weight of public opinion became clear. In true old-media style though, there was not a single link to the original reports in the entire piece!
Not to be outdone, The Oz had a piece up in prime web placement yesterday morning on how it “belled the cat” (this’ll help if you’re confused) on the government’s incompetent performance, which before July 12 everyone thought was brilliant, apparently.
Meanwhile the NT News took a leaf out of Buzzfeed‘s book and published its 10 most popular articles. We particularly enjoyed the not-so-subtle dig at number 10:
Front page of the day. The Daily Telegraph does what it does best — top-notch puns, having a go at the competition and fear-mongering.