Murdoch keeps News Corp name, Thomson becomes publishing CEO

Mon Dec 3, 2012 2:25pm EST
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By Jennifer Saba

(Reuters) - 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 York Post.

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 January 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 and paper.

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 the newsroom.   Continued...

Robert Thomson speaks at the Reuters Media Summit in New York, in this December 4, 2008 file photograph. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton/Files