* Robert Thomson named CEO of new publishing company
* Entertainment assets to be called Fox Group
* The Daily to cease publication on Dec. 15
By Jennifer Saba
Dec 3 Rupert Murdoch tapped Wall Street Journal
managing editor Robert Thomson, a close confidant with little
experience on the business side of publishing, as Chief
Executive of his new publishing company, which will retain the
News Corp name.
Thomson's appointment coincided with several other
announcements related to the impending publishing company
spin-off, including the closing of The Daily, the heavily-hyped
digital newspaper for Apple Inc's iPad, and the naming
of other key executives.
News Corp did not disclose any financial details related to
the spin off, such as how much cash and debt will be ascribed to
the new publishing company, or appoint a board of directors.
Also absent from Monday's announcement was any mention of
Lachlan Murdoch, Rupert's eldest son, who News Corp watchers and
industry experts thought might be recruited back into the family
business, given his previous success as publisher of the New
Gerard Baker, currently The Wall Street Journal's deputy
editor in chief, will succeed Thomson as managing editor of the
paper and editor in chief of its publisher Dow Jones & Co.
Thomson, who assumes the CEO role effective Jan. 1, will now
oversee a stable of assets that includes TV stations and
newspapers in Australia, the Wall Street Journal, New York Post,
the Times of London, as well as book publisher Harper Collins
and a nascent education group.
His ascension comes at a difficult time for print media.
Newspapers face tough challenges as advertisers look elsewhere
and people increasingly prefer smartphones and tablets to ink
While Thomson, a native Australian, is a long time newspaper
executive, including U.S. editor of the Financial Times and
editor of the Times of London, his experience has been mostly in
Now, however, he will have to decide what to do with the
financially struggling New York Post, whether to seek a merger
partner for Harper Collins and if the new company will acquire
U.S. newspapers that could come onto the market, such as the Los
Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune.
"The timing is interesting in that it comes out ahead of the
finalization of Tribune coming out of bankruptcy," said Ken
Doctor, an analyst with Outsell Research.
"If the new News Corp is going to be a bidder for the Los
Angeles Times or the Chicago Tribune or other papers, to get
this duck in a row and to get Thomson in place sets that up in a
Despite Thomson's minimal experience dealing with analysts
and investors, Evercore Partners analyst Alan Gould said that
will not be a problem if he surrounds himself with strong
Indeed, News Corp named former MGM Studios
president Bedi Ajay Singh as the publishing unit's chief
financial officer on Monday.
However, by keeping the News Corp name for the publishing
company and by choosing Thomson, Murdoch is selecting a trusted
editorial lieutenant to tend to the medium that played a leading
role in building his empire and is closest to his heart.
"Many of you know that a belief in the power of the written
word has been in my bones for my entire life," Murdoch, News
Corp's chairman, wrote in a memo to employees obtained by
"I witnessed the hunger people had for well-written,
thoroughly observed stories ... stories that provide not just
information, but insight. That hunger is alive and well today;
my personal mission is to serve and satisfy the human need for
insight as well as I possibly can."
GOODBYE TO 'THE DAILY'
The Daily, which made a splashy debut with a news conference
at the Guggenheim museum in New York almost two years ago, will
publish its last digital edition on Dec. 15. But the brand will
"live on in other channels," News Corp said in a statement.
The ambitious project - News Corp invested about $30 million
- was a test to see if people would subscribe to a digital
"We can and must make the business of news gathering and
editing viable again," Murdoch said at the launch event for the
digital newspaper in New York in February 2011. "We're entering
a remarkable age of innovation and digital renaissance."
Jesse Angelo, founding editor of The Daily, will become
publisher of the New York Post, while Greg Clayman, publisher of
The Daily, will oversee the company's digital strategy.
Current New York Post publisher Paul Carlucci will now focus
solely on the company's marketing arm, News America Marketing,
as its chairman.
In addition to those appointments, News Corp also announced
that Mike Darcey would lead its British newspaper arm, News
International, after CEO Tom Mockridge said on Sunday he was
leaving the company at the end of the year.
Mockridge's name was floated among media watchers as a
potential candidate to lead the new publishing company.
Paul Cheesbrough was named chief technology officer of the
new publishing company.
As previously announced, Murdoch will serve as chairman of
both the publishing company and its larger and faster-growing
entertainment unit, to be called Fox Group. Chase Carey will be
president and chief operating officer of the Fox Group, while
James Murdoch will continue as deputy chief operating officer.
In June, News Corp announced it would separate its
publishing and entertainment assets in a process likely to occur
by early summer.
News Corp shares were down 0.3 percent at $24.55 in
afternoon trading on Monday.