Peter Kafka

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Dow Jones CEO Les Hinton Stepping Down

Dow Jones CEO Les Hinton is leaving the company in the wake of the PhoneGate hacking scandal. Hinton is the second high-ranking News Corp. executive to step down today, and the first major figure from the company’s American operations.

Hinton has been under scrutiny in the past couple weeks because he oversaw News Corp.’s News International unit, the group that publishes its British newspapers, from 1995 through 2007. That’s the same time that News Corp.’s News of the World tabloid is alleged to have engaged in systemic voicemail hacking, among other offenses.

Hinton’s resignation follows current News International head Rebekah Brooks’ announcement, made this morning, that she was doing the same thing. Earlier today, News Corp. bought newspaper ads that carried a public apology signed by CEO Rupert Murdoch.

News Corp. also owns this Web site.

Here’s Murdoch’s statement:

“Les and I have been on a remarkable journey together for more than 52 years. That this passage has come to an unexpected end, professionally, not personally, is a matter of much sadness to me. On this difficult day we should appreciate that his extraordinary work has provided a platform for the future success of Dow Jones. And his great contribution to News Corporation over more than five decades has enhanced innumerable lives, whether those of employees hired by him or of readers better informed because of him. News Corporation is not Rupert Murdoch. It is the collective creativity and effort of many thousands of people around the world, and few individuals have given more to this Company than Les Hinton.”

And here’s Hinton’s memo to his staff:

From: Les_Hinton
Sent: Friday, July 15, 2011 04:10 PM
To: Les_Hinton
Subject: farewell and thanks

Dear all,

Many of you will be aware by now that I resigned today from Dow Jones and News Corp. I attach below my resignation letter to Rupert Murdoch.

It is a deeply, deeply sad day for me.

I want you all to know the pride and pleasure I have taken working at Dow Jones for the past three-and-a-half years. I have never been with better, more dedicated people, or had more fun in a job.

News Corp under Rupert’s brilliant leadership has proved a fitting parent of Dow Jones, allowing us to invest and expand as other media companies slashed costs. This support enabled us together to strengthen the company during a brutal economic downturn, developing fine new products – not to mention one of the world’s great newspapers led by one of the world’s great editors, my dear friend and colleague Robert Thomson.

However difficult this moment is for me, I depart with the certain knowledge that we have built the momentum to take Dow Jones on to ever greater things.

Good luck to you all and thank you.

Les

Dear Rupert,

I have watched with sorrow from New York as the News of the World story has unfolded. I have seen hundreds of news reports of both actual and alleged misconduct during the time I was executive chairman of News International and responsible for the company. The pain caused to innocent people is unimaginable. That I was ignorant of what apparently happened is irrelevant and in the circumstances I feel it is proper for me to resign from News Corp, and apologize to those hurt by the actions of the News of the World.

When I left News International in December 2007, I believed that the rotten element at the News of the World had been eliminated; that important lessons had been learned; and that journalistic integrity was restored.

My testimonies before the Culture Media and Sport Select Committee were given honestly. When I appeared before the Committee in March 2007, I expressed the belief that Clive Goodman had acted alone, but made clear our investigation was continuing.

In September 2009, I told the Committee there had never been any evidence delivered to me that suggested the conduct had spread beyond one journalist. If others had evidence that wrongdoing went further, I was not told about it.

Finally, I want to express my gratitude to you for a wonderful working life. My admiration and respect for you are unbounded. You have built a magnificent business since I first joined 52 years ago and it has been an honor making my contribution.

With my warmest best wishes,

Les

And here’s a statement from Robert Thomson, managing editor of The Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones editor-in-chief:

From: Thomson, Robert
Sent: Friday, July 15, 2011 04:23 PM
To: WSJ All News Staff; Newswires_USERS
Subject: Les

Dear All,
I’m sure you will have seen the note from Les Hinton, who has led us with distinction and dignity since the day he arrived at Dow Jones. He is far too modest a person to reveal how much he has fought for the cause of great journalism at the Journal and Newswires and beyond. We have had the privilege of working for an individual who instinctively understands the value of original reporting and fine writing, and has matched that understanding with commitment and investment.
Before Les transformed the company, there were plans afoot for hundreds of editorial layoffs and Dow Jones was at the mercy of management consultants. In the most turbulent of times for “old” media, Les steered us back into profitability and made us a digital force around the world. There will be a certain amount of uncertainty in the coming days, but we should all be clear that, as Dow Jones journalists, we owe Les an enormous and irredeemable debt.
Robert.


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