A busy week for News Corp’s Lachlan Murdoch and Robert Thomson included the duo attending the News Awards at their Australian outpost as well as presenting quarterly financial results including double-digit drops in three categories.
While news media revenue was down only four percent for the three months ended September 30, the outcome was a 47 per cent, US$16 million fall in EBITDA to US$18 million.
Book publishing fared even worse, falling 54 per cent to US$39 million, with the overall outcome a 15 per cent fall in total EBITDA to US$350 million on a one per cent fall in total revenue (to US$2.48 billion). A US$153 million negative impact from foreign currency fluctuations was among causes.
News Corp shares dropped 11 per cent on the result but had regained most of this by early the following morning.
News also took the first-quarter earnings opportunity to announce that its Australian mastheads had passed the one million digital subscribers milestone, with 1.012 million compared to 897,000 in the previous year.
Australasia executive chairman Michael Miller – who attended the awards with his wife Tonya – said the achievement reflected Australians’ thirst for trusted journalism, and praised the “foresight” of Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch and their belief people that people would pay for relevant and helpful journalism.
At the annual prizegiving in Sydney on Tuesday night, Murdoch and Thomson recognised the success of the Teacher’s Pet podcast series presenting the Keith Murdoch Award to national chief correspondent of The Australian Hedley Thomas.
Murdoch said Thomas had “exposed malfeasance, incompetence and crimes, triggered inquiries, royal commissions and criminal trials.
“He has done all this through his relentless pursuit of documented facts and innate sense of justice… and winning the trust of victims and their supporters by upholding the essential values of our craft.”
Other winners included Young Journalist of the Year Liam Mendes; Kristin Shorten, Claire Harvey and Matt Cunningham for their Yuendumu exposure; and investigations writer Sharri Markson and business editor Kylar Loussikian for their “Scoop of the Year” around Lark Distilling chief Geoff Bainbridge.
Murdoch – who attended with his wife Sarah – said the year had been a difficult one, and that “difficult times are testing times” for journalists.
“While in the main we have moved happily on from the pandemic, we can’t forget the essential role our journalism has and will continue to play in questioning authority, holding our political leaders to account, highlighting the extreme social costs of lockdowns and getting our kids healthily back to school,” he said.
“Our role has never been more important.”
News Corp chief executive Robert Thomson added that though News was “more digital, more mobile and more global”, it could not be complacent. “We cannot be satisfied or smug, but must regard our shared success as a starting point for the future and for what is to come.”
Pictured (top) Lachlan Murdoch with Hedley Thomas; (above) with his wife Sarah; and Michael and Tonya Miller (pictures The Australian).