As a journalist and someone that breathes the media 24/7, I probably think any media story is a big general news story. But this week, boy oh boy, hasn’t it been big for media?
Probably one of the biggest shake ups, was the resignation of John Hartigan at News Limited. I’ve never met the guy, but my mates that work at News have nothing but positive things to say about the journos’ man, although one did admit that the announcement came as a bit of a shock.
He’s being replaced by Kim Williams, the CEO of FOXTEL, who I have met. I’ve interviewed Mr Williams a number of times during my time at Sky News, which is broadcast on the FOXTEL platform, and have found him to be concise, firm yet approachable. They’re some good attributes for someone that will be leading a company which recently found itself in media headlines because of parent company News Corp’s connection with the News of the World phone hacking scandal, and its various feuds with the Gillard government and independents.
More importantly, Mr Williams also saw FOXTEL grow and move successfully onto its digital platform. Many print publications have moved onto a digital platform but are still working out how to make money from. The Australian for example, has only moved to a paywall system this week. That’s Mr Williams’ expertise. While he doesn’t have a newspaper background, he does have experience in subscriptions, paid content and the move to digital.
Like my former boss at Sky News drilled into us years ago, the face of journalism is changing. It’s not just about television journalism, or print journalism. It’s about the multi-media and cross-platform experience, and that’s the way many media and news outfits are going to remain competitive.
Another big change locally, was the Fairfax family’s exit from the very publication it built. John B Fairfax offloaded his 232 million shares in the company for around $200million, at 85 cents per share.
As a result, shares in the company slumped 7 per cent on Friday to close at 86 cents.
Now we’re waiting to find out who bought that stake. Stephen Mayne speculated in Crikey! that there’s a chance Channel 7’s Kerry Stokes may be interested despite his company holding a lot of debt, to continue to build his power as a major media player in Australia. Stephen Mayne also said Gina Rinehart could have also been interested following her dabbling into the Network Ten register.
We should find out either late Monday or early Tuesday who exactly made the purchase.