This is a story that the Wall Street Journal had better have right: The paper reports this morning that its managing editor, Robert Thomson, will become CEO of the still-unnamed publishing company that News Corp will create next year in a spin off. Next week the company plans to announce Thomson’s appointment and the elevation of his deputy, Gerard Baker, to replace him as managing editor of the Journal, the paper says citing “people familiar with the matter.” The company also may announce other senior appointments and board members, as well as a name for the publishing company, but final decisions haven’t been made. CEO Rupert Murdoch said in October that he would announce the leadership plans by year-end.
Last year The New Yorker‘s Ken Auletta described Thomson as “perhaps Rupert Murdoch’s only close friend. The two men are both from Australia, are married to Chinese women, and were born (thirty years apart) on the same day. They are also both raising their children Catholic, and Murdoch is godfather to Thomson’s nine- and eleven-year-old sons.” The friendship began in the late 1990s when Thomson was U.S. managing editor of the Financial Times. He joined News Corp in 2002 when Murdoch named Thomson editor of the Times of London. He moved to the Journal in 2007 after News Corp acquired Dow Jones. After News Corp spins off the publishing unit, Murdoch will remain chairman and CEO of News Corp — which will focus on its TV and film properties — and be chairman of the publishing company. It will include Dow Jones, The Wall Street Journal, Dow Jones Newswires, HarperCollins, and The New York Post, as well as newspaper properties in the UK and Australia, and News Corp’s new education services operation.