Arif Durrani, head of media at Campaign, editor of Media Week
Arif Durrani, head of media at Campaign, editor of Media Week
A view from Arif Durrani

Strap yourself in, press industry: this year is going to be one hell of a ride

And we're off, soon to be galloping into the Year of the Horse. Welcome to 2014. It's expected to be a tempestuous 12 months by all accounts, and the opening few days have lived up to the billing.

The start of a new year – or, more pertinently, the end of the fourth quarter and a full calendar year against which many targets are set – always brings a certain amount of change to the media business.

The past few weeks have been no exception, with the industry abuzz with some high-profile people moves. And with hunts on for senior leadership roles, not least at MEC, Sky Media, Yahoo! (where changes are coming), Microsoft, CBS Outdoor and Hearst Magazines, the scene remains far from settled.

It’s no coincidence that some of the biggest changes are coming from the sector having to adapt the fastest: print.

After 32 years, the cigar-chomping Guy Zitter’s exit from DMG Media is nothing short of an end of an era. When many in the business think of the Daily Mail brand, they think of Zitter. Announcing his exit to staff, the man DMGT chairman Lord Rothermere last year jokingly said he sent his poorly targeted slimming ads on Facebook to, was typically bombastic [entitled 60th birthday announcement, see below]. Opinionated, lively, waspish – I’ve always found him to be great company, despite disagreeing with almost everything he says outside of shop talk.

'DMG Media represents the last of the big press groups to have avoided a root-and-branch structural overhaul'

Our last lengthy encounter ended with his insistence that Amanda Platell is never wrong. Seriously, where can you go from there? Zitter’s pending departure, along with the news that Marcus Rich is taking charge at IPC Media, will leave a large hole at DMG Media. But, then, perhaps that’s no coincidence either.

The Boston Consulting Group continues to float around Northcliffe House amid an ongoing structural review overseen by the chief executive, Kevin Beatty. In many respects, the company represents the last of the big press groups to have avoided a root-and-branch structural overhaul. Staff numbers at DMG Media – home to the Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday and Metro, as well as Wowcher, Jobsite and Jobrapido – now look relatively bloated and they still operate largely in silos.

Are the changes at Metro related? Out goes the managing director, Linda Grant, and in comes the former MD Steve Auckland, with the familiar face of Grant Woodthorpe taking charge of the trading side of things again. Other boardroom departures not reported include DMG Media’s HR director, Simon Heath, and the e-commerce chief, Susan Aubrey-Cound.

Meanwhile, on the other side of London, news leaks that David Emin is leaving the newly reimagined and streamlined Trinity Mirror without a role to go to…

Advice for those in the publishing game: best strap yourself in, this horse can kick.

Email sent to all Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday and MailOnline staff...


I am delighted to be able to inform you that after 32 years of enslavement by the company and 20 years as Managing Director, I am stepping down at the end of March 2014.

Before the building spontaneously erupts with cheering it is only fair to warn you that I have been asked (begged would be a more accurate description), to stay on in a non-executive role. This involves Kevin sitting on my knee whilst I invisibly work his hands and mouth.

As this allows me to continue to claim my outlandish expenses and wander around being rude to people, I have had no option, but to agree.

Guy Zitter
Managing Director
Mail Newspapers