ME AND MY HERO: PART 2 MEDIA - Six media figures name their heroes of the millennium

’This is all so ... parochial!’ Tempus’s Chris Ingram blustered on discovering that the five other industry figures interviewed for this feature had largely chosen people known to them personally.

’This is all so ... parochial!’ Tempus’s Chris Ingram blustered on

discovering that the five other industry figures interviewed for this

feature had largely chosen people known to them personally.

A slightly unfair complaint, perhaps, given that the half-dozen people

who were asked to nominate their media hero were told to choose someone

who had not only influenced media as a whole, but themselves in


That said, the brief was to go back as far as they wished in their

search for a media hero of the millennium and only Ingram managed to

look outside the 20th century.

But ’hero’ is a highly emotive concept and it is understandable if

people nominated those men (and they are all men) who made a real

difference to their own lives. Terry Mansfield named Jocelyn Stevens,

who ’rescued’ Mansfield from Conde Nast in the early 60s, and Will

Hutton picked Harold Evans, who employed Hutton as economics editor of

The Sunday Times.

Only two people found inspiration beyond their immediate experience:

Ingram and BBC Worldwide’s Nicholas Brett, who picked Johannes Gutenberg

(the inventor of moveable type) and George Orwell respectively.

Ingram’s choice of Gutenberg rightly acknowledges the father of print

media, although it is hard to see how Gutenberg influenced Ingram

personally, except in the broadest possible terms.

Brett’s choice of Orwell as one of his heroes makes sense, as Brett

himself demonstrates, before going on to name Rupert Murdoch as his

number-one man. Who knows what Orwell would have made of that.

It is interesting that Murdoch wasn’t nominated more than once. Only

Brett chose him, although his slight bashfulness in doing so and use of

the word ’predictably’ perhaps illustrates why the name doesn’t appear

more often.

Campaign also expected that someone would name a web pioneer such as Tim

Berners-Lee, who, by inventing hypertext, became to the internet what

Gutenberg is to printed media.

But while Berners-Lee and his fellows may not be the heroes of this

millennium, they are certain to have that honour in the next.


During the years that I worked with Sam Chisholm while I was at Zenith,

handling Sky’s media account, I saw him take Sky from bust in the late

80s to the multi-billion pound company it is today.

Sam took Rupert Murdoch’s vision of choice and better television, and

through the most concentrated effort and single-mindedness, went on to

execute that.

He’s a little, aggressive Kiwi, who’ll sit in a meeting and within

nanoseconds will have got what the answer is.

But he also gave enormous support. He phoned me at Zenith late one night

when we were working on a launch for him, and said: ’You know what you

should do: go out on the floor and thank those people,’ then the phone

went down. No discussion. He rewarded those people who believed in the

brand and would challenge him.

Christine Walker is the founder of Walker Media


My hero is Richard Dunn, who was the chief executive of Thames

Television during the seven years I worked there, and who, sadly, died

last year.

You don’t always understand how capable people really are until you stop

being with them, but I thought he was remarkable in lots of ways. He had

great vision, deciding, for instance, to buy 10 per cent in the Astra

satellite system, being the only person who saw its significance.

He was a great believer in company culture, and what a company stands

for. As TV became more commercial, he stood for quality and wouldn’t


Somebody would come up with an idea and he’d say: ’No, that’s not what

Thames is about.’

At his memorial service, someone said that if you found yourself sitting

next to him at a lunch, you saw it as a fantastic result. He really was

interested in you, entertaining, caring and warm.

I saw him on the most difficult day of his career, when Thames lost its

franchise. He had to make a presentation telling everyone it was all

over, and handled it brilliantly. It must have been so hard to do what

he did, an hour after getting that fax, but he had huge stature and


He didn’t try and wash over it, saying everything would be all right,

because it wasn’t.

He wasn’t hands-on in an operational sense - he let people get on with

the job. But he always had time for everyone. If you said: ’Would you

like to go for lunch, or a beer?’ he’d choose the beer.

David Mansfield is the chief executive of Capital Radio


There are four people to whom, through different stages of my career, I

have looked.

George Orwell excited my interest in journalism and demonstrated that it

could make a difference. Homage to Catalonia is the finest piece of war

reporting ever written.

Nobody will have heard of my next guru. Professor John Harrison taught

me journalism at Pennsylvania State University in the late 70s. He was

from the great tradition of American Mid-Western journalism, having

reported throughout the Roosevelt era and the Depression, and showed me

that journalism was a force for good.

Charlie ’Goebbels’ (as Private Eye called him) Wilson was editor of The

Times when I was there. The nights of the Zeebrugge disaster and the

Brighton bombing summed up journalism for me: he led from the front,

rolling his sleeves up, directing, shaping, motivating, bullying,


Finally, and predictably, Rupert Murdoch. I have personal reasons for

this, as he got me to cross the Rubicon and go to Wapping. The planning

and vision that went into the Wapping adventure remains one of the

extraordinary stories of late 20th-century journalism. Also, he poured a

bucket of cold commercial knowledge over journalists, showing us that we

had to keep an eye on the market, starting with the reader.

Nicholas Brett is publisher and director of Radio Times, arts and

factual group, BBC Worldwide


The two people who have had the most direct influence on my career are

David Lloyd and Peter Preston. David took me from being a nobody to a

somebody by bringing me on to Newsnight in 1983, and Peter hired me as

the economics editor of The Guardian - both bold moves, as it wasn’t

likely that I’d be successful. I very much admire David’s continuing and

lifelong intelligent pulling of the establishment’s tail, and Peter, as

an editor, is extraordinarily democratic and ran The Guardian in that


But if asked to pick one hero, it would be Harold Evans. As the editor

of The Sunday Times, he offered me a job as its economics editor in 1981

when I really was an unknown, opening a door to me that I had thought

was closed.

He is a journalist through and through, willing to get his hands dirty

even once he had become a national newspaper editor. But he also has

intense integrity, leading by example and by the way he serves an


His willingness to commit to an idea, a cause, the body of an idea, has

led many successful editors to capitalise on his achievements. Andrew

Neil and John Witherow would both acknowledge that.

Above all, he was the exemplar of a campaigning journalist in his

bravery, taking on of power, and taking things to the public domain.

Will Hutton is the chairman of the Industrial Society, a former editor

of The Observer and the author of The State We’re In


While I greatly admire Alastair Cook for his influence on journalism,

and Rupert Murdoch for his ownership strategies, my personal hero,

without a doubt, is Jocelyn Stevens.

Jocelyn bought the ailing Queen magazine at the age of 25, eventually

turning it into Harpers & Queen. He interviewed me for a job there in

1964, claiming he was going to ’rescue’ me from Conde Nast. During the

interview he asked if I had gone to school. I told him that indeed, I

had, and he replied: ’Good. I always employ people who went to school at

least once.’

When I left Conde Nast and joined him at Queen, it was like leaving the

Vatican and joining a pirate ship. He’d say: ’Right, we’re doing a

feature on Africa. You’re going to Africa tomorrow, Terry, and don’t

come back until you’ve got something.’

He always attracted enormous talent - hundreds of big names have worked

with him over the years. His creativity, vision and ideas really caught

my imagination, and as a result of working with him, my standards are

very high. I don’t understand people’s limitations as he never allowed

me any.

Overall, he opened my eyes and taught me to be brave, and to adopt the

attitude that there is nothing you cannot do.

Terry Mansfield is managing director of the National Magazine



There can only be one media man of the millennium, and that is Johannes

Gutenberg who, in around 1450, invented printing from moveable type. In

fact, I’m seen as so ancient by most of my staff that they think I knew

him personally, but in fact we were never introduced.

This was the real start of mass communication. Think of it - no radio,

no television, no satellite, no computers, no phones, no newspapers and

no magazines. In fact, before Gutenberg, there wasn’t much more than the

quill pen.

OK media buyers, how would you have bought space at a discount from a

monk who was spending eight years illustrating the first letter of a

page of manuscript for a book with a circulation of one? It’s also

rather difficult to understand how our planners would have sold an

optimised schedule to a client when the prime concern was whether the

monk would live long enough to finish the page.

Unfortunately, Gutenberg’s is not a wholly happy story. He had a

troublesome partner, Johan Fust, who provided the loan for that

legendary printing press. When Johannes fell behind on the repayments,

Fust sued him and forced him to hand the press back, leaving him


So the moral of this story for all media specialists of all ages is:

never, ever take your eyes off the cash flow.

Let’s raise a glass to old Johannes - he did us all a favour.

Chris Ingram is the chairman of Tempus.


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