The real Big Harto bows out

The real Big Harto bows out

Posted November 9th, 2011 by debritz

I couldn't let today's resignation of News Ltd CEO and chairman John Hartigan go by without comment.

Harto, as he was universally known to everyone who worked for and with him, gave me my break in metropolitan newspapers by hiring me as one of the foundation staff of the now-closed Daily Sun newspaper in Brisbane.

He and the brilliant team he assembled - many of whom rose to great heights in News and elsewhere - taught me much of what I know about the media (but don't blame them for my failings).

Harto is a great networker, and he exudes great charm. It's difficult not to like the man - even those who have had battles with him concede that point.

Although one of the inside jokes at News Ltd is that everybody is called "Mate", one of Harto's great talents is remembering names and faces, even as the years go by. Whenever he walked into the Queensland Newspapers office, he'd remember everybody he had worked with by name and he would always find time for a chat with the workers on the "shop floor".

The last time I saw him was at a Daily Sun reunion four years ago, where he was especially generous with his time and his words.

While not everybody was a committed fan, many a glass will be raised as a toast to Harto tonight and on November 30 when he steps down.

According to online reports (here and here), Harto will be replaced by Foxtel's Kim Williams as News CEO and by Rupert Murdoch as chairman. Richard Freudenstein will take over at Foxtel.

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

“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.”