Will Mike Darcey be able to steady the ship of News International?
The appointment of Mike Darcey as new chief executive of News International is certainly an interesting choice. It’s always been hard to tell with the Murdochs, but their fast and effective appointment of someone from within the business is a typically shrewd move. Picking Mike Darcey from his previous role as COO at BSkyB – a trusted and untarnished bit of their organisation – makes total sense.
Darcey understands how to navigate the Murdoch / News Corp world but, crucially, he is unblemished by the reputational mess of their UK news business. Furthermore, given the seismic shift in the News International newspaper publishing business model, it will be interesting to see what a newspaper business outsider, heralding from a highly successful media company, will be able to offer by way of a fresh perspective.
Darcey has been appointed with the specific aim of detoxifying the print arm of the business, and it is on this monumental task that he will stake his own reputation. Today’s stories have pointed to his strategic and commercial success at BSkyB in advertising and product development; but also his lack of direct responsibility for programming and news. Regardless, in what will inevitably be a challenging role, it will be fascinating to see the long term effect of his appointment not just on the UK print business, but on the wider media landscape.
So, however well-guided the corporate restructure, News International’s reputation still requires significant rehabilitation. The question is whether Darcey will be able to prove his ability to steady the ship and to lead News Corp’s UK newspaper business into its next phase. And, in the wider context of the corporate reshuffle, whether his experience at BSkyB will have adequately prepared him to navigate News International away from the turbulent waters of the recent times. I’ll be watching this space.