’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
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.
CHRISTINE WALKER ON SAM CHISHOLM
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
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
DAVID MANSFIELD ON RICHARD DUNN
My hero is Richard Dunn, who was the chief executive of Thames
Television during the seven years I worked there, and who, sadly, died
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
NICHOLAS BRETT ON RUPERT MURDOCH
There are four people to whom, through different stages of my career, I
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
WILL HUTTON ON HAROLD EVANS
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
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
TERRY MANSFIELD ON JOCELYN STEVENS
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
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
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
CHRIS INGRAM ON JOHANNES GUTENBERG
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
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.