One immediate effect of the news that Wall Street Journal managing editor Robert Thomson would take over News Corporation’s soon-to-be-separate publishing arm is that the man who steered News International through the recent phone hacking scandal at News of the World has decided to walk. Tom Mockridge, a 22-year News Corp. executive who replaced Rebekah Brooks as CEO of the company’s embattled British newspaper group, said on Sunday he would “pursue outside opportunities” after he was passed over for the job Thompson reportedly landed. Rupert Murdoch plans to split News Corp’s less profitable newspaper and book publishing arm from its more lucrative television division as early as December 31, the Telegraph reported.
Mockridge plans to leave the company by that same day in a decision Murdoch called “absolutely and entirely his own.” According to the New York Times, Mockridge was seen as a favorite for the job that eventually went to Thompson, after he provided a “steady hand” through what was arguably the publishing group’s worst crisis ever. “Several top lieutenants within the company thought Mr. Mockridge’s time overseeing the company’s embattled British newspaper unit would pay off with his appointment as chief executive to the larger, spun-off publishing company, which will include The Journal, The New York Post and HarperCollins.” But as the Telegraph notes, Thompson and Murdoch have a particularly close connection:
Mr Murdoch and Mr Thomson share a deep love of newspapers – something that some of the other contenders lacked – but this is not all they have in common. Both Mr Murdoch and Mr Thomson come from Australia, share the same birthday and have Chinese wives. Mr Thomson was the only non-family member from News Corp to attend the baptism of Mr Murdoch’s youngest daughter in the river Jordan, while Mr Thomson made Mr Murdoch godfather to his two sons.
So while getting passed over for the new job must have come as a nasty blow to Mockridge, it can’t have been too huge a surprise.