Murdoch Rewards Loyal Sun Henchman With Stateside VP Job

17 February 2003

Two things about Rupert Murdoch. He knows how to harness his loyal retainers; and he doesn’t make the same mistake twice!

Having set-up Kelvin MacKenzie, former editor of Britain’s top-selling daily tabloid The Sun, as chairman of News Corporation-controlled The Wireless Group in 1998, it was announced last week that the media tycoon has meted out similar treatment to MacKenzie’s successor at the newspaper, David Yelland, who quit the editorial hot seat last month ostensibly – and to the derision of his tabloid rivals – to attend Harvard Business School.

The reason for Yelland’s unexpected thirst for education became apparent Friday when he was named by NewsCorp as senior vice-president at the New York office of the chairman – who is clearly determined not to repeat the mistake made at Wireless Group.

MacKenzie was clearly not at ease when the going got tough in the world of big balance sheets: “It’s absurd for me to pretend that I’m George Soros’ long-lost brother or something,” Yelland’s predecessor told investment bank WestLB Panmure at the time.

Murdoch, who is not prone to repeating errors of judgement, presumably decided that Yelland’s learning curve is best confined to the realm of academe and the scribe will not take up his new front office role until he has completed a three months advanced management programme at Harvard.

A new spreadsheet-savvy Yelland will then liaise with Lachlan Murdoch, NewsCorp heir apparent and deputy chief operating officer, advising on publishing strategy and expansion of the group’s titles.

Data sourced from: Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff