Monday, 10 December 2007

It's a family affair: J. Murdoch and M.Golden

The International Herald Tribune gave a front page story to the question of the heir apparent to Rupert Murdoch - his son James. (James Murdoch: Ready for the throne? Saturday, December 8, 2007.)

It was interesting to note this story running the day before the new Reuters/IHT deal was announced and shortly after an article about Murdoch's plans to shake up Dow Jones, owner of IHT arch-rival The Wall Street Journal (

I learnt that James has a 'soft-side' because he drives environmentally friendly cars - like his hybrid Lexus 4WD (sic), so that's all good.

The publisher of the International Herald Tribune, Michael Golden - a charming, gentle man who I have met on a number of occasions, even having the pleasure of sitting next to his wife at my last IHT board meeting dinner - used to be a potter and teach in prisons, so he too has a 'soft-side'.

How then did he arrive at being publisher of the IHT?

Given the IHT's love of full disclosure in it's reporting, it's surprising that his biography, as published on the IHT's corporate website fails to mention Golden's membership of the family that owns the New York Times, hence perhaps in part explaining not only his rise from remedial eduction prison teacher to publisher of the IHT, but also his election to the NYT Company board of directors in 1997 and his appointment as vice-chairman of the company in the same year.

It's for others to judge if his abilities as a businessman, journalist and publisher merited these powerful roles, but it might be appropriate for the IHT/NYT to explain to their stakeholders exactly what his family relationship is.

Eric Pfanner, who wrote the article about James Murdoch, has not as yet been assigned the story of who will be the successor to the chairman of the NYT company, Arthur 'Pinch' O. Sulzberger Jr., nor indeed the power struggles in New York after the Jason Blair fiasco which included rumours of open fisticuffs between Michael Golden and Pinch, and Mr. Golden being packed off to Paris shortly thereafter to run the IHT.

Nor has there been a report on the views of senior management at the IHT about the capacities and faculties of Mr. Golden as publisher. I don't want to name names but the words 'light-weight' and 'disappointing' have been used to describe Mr. Golden to me by some such executives.

Anyway, for those interested in reading Mr. Golden's bio, family connections expurgated, you can check it out at

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