Media: John Hartigan steps down as News Limited Chief Executive

Media: John Hartigan steps down at News

Amidst the media maelstrom that is the Independent Print Media Inquiry, Rupert Murdoch today announced that John Hartigan will step down as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of News Limited. Here is the word from News Corporate Affairs verbatim:

“John’s decision will end a distinguished 41 year career with News in which he has given us exemplary service and incredible leadership,” Mr Murdoch said. 

“John was an outstanding reporter, an editor with few peers and has been an inspiring executive, initially as Group Editorial Director and, later, as Chief Executive for 11 years and Chairman and Chief Executive for the past six.

“Few people have contributed as much as John to the quality of journalism in Australia. He has earned enormous respect among both colleagues and competitors.”

Mr Murdoch also praised Hartigan’s leadership of a long running campaign to defend the public’s right to know how it is governed and how our courts dispense justice.

“Few people have done as much as John to campaign on the public’s behalf to uphold freedom of speech and freedom of the press in Australia," said Mr Murdoch.

“I thank John for having contributed so much to our company and applaud his great integrity, immense journalistic talent and inspirational leadership." 

Mr Hartigan joined the company in Sydney in 1970 as a reporter on The Daily Mirror, and, later, The Daily Telegraph. He went on to work for The Sun in London and the New York Post. After returning to Australia, he became Editor of Queensland’s Sunday Sun, and later the founding editor of the Brisbane metropolitan daily, The Daily Sun, and a director of Queensland Sun Newspapers.

In 1986 Mr Hartigan was appointed editor of
The Daily Telegraph, and three years later was promoted to Editor-in-Chief of The Daily Telegraph and The Sunday Telegraph. In 1997 Mr Hartigan was appointed Group Editorial Director, the company’s most senior editorial position responsible for of all of the company’s newspapers. He was appointed Chief Executive Officer of News Limited in 2000 and Chairman and Chief Executive Officer in 2005.

Mr Hartigan said: “I am immensely proud of News. I am privileged to have worked for such a great company. I want to thank the many colleagues that have helped, encouraged, inspired and challenged me to be the best I can be.

“As a reporter I worked with some great editors. As an editor I worked with incredibly talented people and as a senior executive I could not have asked for a better management team.

“I am indebted to the millions of readers who buy our newspapers every day and to our advertisers for their great support.

“In Rupert, I have been fortunate to work for a proprietor who cares passionately about journalism and the vital role that a free press plays in a democracy."    

In recent years Mr Hartigan has delivered numerous speeches on the future of journalism at industry conferences and at the National Press Club. In 2007 he delivered the ABC’s Andrew Olle Lecture to great acclaim and in 2006 he delivered the Australian National University’s Reconciliation Lecture, calling for new approaches to solving indigenous disadvantage and the need for better education and employment opportunities for indigenous Australians.

In 2007 Mr Hartigan led the formation of a media coalition, “Australia’s Right to Know”, which has successfully campaigned for changes in legislation to improve the openness and transparency of government and the courts. In 2008 he joined a small group of distinguished journalists to be awarded the Walkley Award for Journalistic Leadership.

Mr Hartigan has been a longstanding director of News Limited and its subsidiary companies, Queensland Press, Advertiser Newspapers and The Herald and Weekly Times Limited. He is also chairman of Australian News Channel which owns and operates Sky News and was, previously, a director of FOXTEL.

Among his external board and community responsibilities he is a director of The Bradman Foundation, the American Australian Association and the NSW Wine Industry Council. He was recently appointed as a director of the NSW Export and Investment Advisory Board. 

Mr Hartigan will leave the company on 30 November, 2011.

Hartigan will be replaced by FOXTEL CEO Kim Williams. No doubt staff at News Limited will be in shock. Hartigan's leadership through recent times, if only from an observational perspective, has been solid and dignified and all about the journalism. Naive? Maybe. But I hope he can now have a few good nights' sleep.

Girl With a Satchel