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Fairfax Melbourne Managing Director Don Churchill’s Departing Herogram to Staff

Dear Colleagues,

My indication to the company to retire from the business, announced today, comes after a wonderful and exciting 46 years plus in the media industry in both New Zealand and Australia.

There will be plenty of time for me to talk to you before I retire, but I want to take this opportunity of thanking every one in Melbourne Publishing and right across Fairfax who has worked with me over the past very eventful six years.

It has been a tremendous period of both achievement and great developments in a marketplace that has been, as always, challenging and demanding.

I have been asked three times in the past 18 months to defer my retirement plans to assist the company make a number of changes and I am happy to have done so and play my part.

There comes a time, however, in everyone’s career when the baton, so to speak, must be handed on.  I retire from Fairfax at a time of great change and of exciting opportunities for all of you as the company works on a new chapter of development.

I can say one thing for sure:  I feel I have had a stellar career in our business with two editorships and managing four publishing companies on both sides of the Tasman.

My career in newspapers has been particularly exciting, starting out at a journalist and becoming an editor at a young age, first editing a weekend sports paper, and then being fortunate enough to have edited Wellington’s The Evening Post in the 1980s, a time of spectacular political, economic and societal change in the New Zealand.

I went on to a series of management roles, notably guiding The Nelson Mail as General Manager from the red into profit.  My period in Christchurch as General Manager of The Press came at a time when a wealthy American launched a challenger daily paper and we successfully held our market and eventually saw the newcomer, the first daily launched in New Zealand for more than 100 years, fail.

I returned to my home town of Wellington and led the project to merge the city’s two daily papers into one, thus creating The Dominion Post which, on the purchase by Fairfax Media Ltd, became the flagship paper of the group.  It was doubly gratifying to have won New Zealand Newspaper of the Year with the DomPost.

My invitation to take over all the operations of Fairfax in Victoria and become publisher of The Age and our communities and regional papers under the company’s then structure in 2005 was a wonderful opportunity which I relished and which, working with so many talented people, we had many wins.  It was great to have contributed towards The Age and then the Sunday Age taking out the Newspaper of the Year awards.  We also very successfully introduced new structures, disciplines, products and initiatives into our business.

I have worked closely with four CEOs during that period in which our Melbourne businesses continued to perform and contribute strongly, often leading the way with initiatives and masthead developments.  I was always proud to have been “the Melbourne voice” at board presentations and to have had endorsement of the many the achievements of our Melbourne team.

Our papers – and finding ways to keep them healthy – have been my almost total involvement, but I certainly am proud to have been part of rehousing The Age and the rest of the Melbourne businesses into our wonderful new building, Media House.

I have enjoyed being involved on a number of industry and other forums, and also participating in community events, whether it is the Christchurch Arts Festival, or the Melbourne Fashion Festival, both as a director, and contributing to other Melbourne forums.

So now it’s about time I did some things that I have put on the backburner for so many years, like stepping up my desire to travel extensively.  There is also a wish to get back to some writing – I think there’s a book on my media involvements and some of the characters in both New Zealand and Australia lurking in me, too.

So everyone – thanks for the journey.  Melbourne has such a fine team.  We have so many great people.  It’s been a pleasure knowing you and working with you.

Regards,

Don

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  • 1
    Frank Campbell
    Posted July 27, 2011 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

    He sounds so…pedestrian. Thanks anyway, but no need for a book, Don.

    Makes Gawenda look like an intellectual…

  • 2
    quantize
    Posted August 19, 2011 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

    Actually sounds like a decent person…the dis-endorsement of Frank Campbell is a good start…

  • 3
    anthony tan
    Posted September 4, 2011 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

    @Frank: if you think Churchill is dull, you really should have a listen to Hywood some time. And then there’s Jack Matthews. These guys give (countless) speeches written with the aid of mogadon. The one thing they all have in common is extensive application of the first person, singular. Hywood tries to channel Keating. Matthews wants desperately to be cool.
    The king pin is the man from Woolies: a solid member of the Christian right of the NSW Libs.

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