News Corp. name goes to publishing company; Thomson to be CEO

Wall Street Journal managing editor Robert Thomson and WSJ Magazine Editor-in-chief Kristina O'Neill at WSJ Magazine's "Innovator of the Year Awards" in October.
(Evan Agostini / Associated Press)

News Corp.'s soon-to-be publishing company will carry the name News Corp., while the company’s television and movie properties will make up a separate global company called the Fox Group.

Rupert Murdoch’s media conglomerate is in the process of dividing itself into two separately traded companies. It plans to spin off its publishing assets, including the Wall Street Journal, New York Post, Times of London and HarperCollins book publishing, into one entity with the more lucrative entertainment properties making up the other.

Robert Thomson, managing editor of the Wall Street Journal, will become chief executive of the new publishing company when the corporate split is complete next summer, News Corp. announced Monday.


“This is an incredibly exciting time, for me personally, and for our companies’ ambitious futures,” News Corp. Chief Executive Rupert Murdoch said in a statement. “The challenges we face in the publishing and media industries are great, but the opportunities are greater.”

In an email to employees, Murdoch said the News Corp. name would be retained by the publishing concern “in keeping with the company’s 60-year-heritage of bringing news to the world.”

Murdoch said that he would continue to serve as chairman of News Corp. and would be chairman and chief executive of the entertainment company.

Gerard Baker, 50, deputy editor in chief of the Wall Street Journal, will succeed Thomson as editor in chief on Jan. 1.

Thomson, 51, has long been viewed as the front-runner for the CEO job of the new publishing company. Murdoch selected the Australian native as editor of the Journal shortly after News Corp. acquired Dow Jones, the Journal’s parent company. Before that, Thomson was editor of the U.S. edition of the Financial Times.

Murdoch said he selected Thomson, who has served as editor in chief of Dow Jones and managing editor of the Wall Street Journal, for chief executive of the new company because of his “outstanding leadership at the Journal, which has become the dominant newspaper in the U.S. and has greatly expanded its global reach through, which now publishes in eight languages.”

“Many of you know that a belief in the power of the written word has been in my bones for my entire life,” Murdoch said in the email to employees. “It began as I listened to my father’s stories from his days as a war correspondent and, later, as a successful publisher. It deepened when, starting in grammar school, I rolled up my sleeves and worked alongside fellow students to publish school journals.”

Murdoch noted that although the medium has changed, his “hunger is alive and well today. ... Change always breeds uncertainty but let me be very clear about one thing that is certain: We aren’t finished achieving what others deem impossible: Not even close.”

Separately, on Sunday night News Corp. said that Tom Mockridge, who was tapped last year to lead News Corp.'s scandal-plagued British newspaper unit, will be leaving the media company at the end of this month.

Mockridge, however, also was seen as a viable contender for the CEO job, particularly after Murdoch entrusted him with leading the troubled London newspaper unit, News International, in July 2011 during the peak of the crisis over phone hacking at the now-shuttered News of the World tabloid.

News Corp. said in its statement that Mockridge was leaving to “pursue outside opportunities.”

On Monday, News Corp. announced that Mike Darcey, 47, currently chief operating officer at pay-TV operator British Sky Broadcasting Group Plc, will replace Mockridge at News International. Mockridge last year stepped in to replace Rebekah Brooks, who was forced to resign over the hacking and bribery scandal and faces a criminal trial next year.


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