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Echuca-born Thomson named News Corp chief executive

Incoming News Corporation chief Robert Thomson's roots can be traced back to Echuca, where he was born, and Torrumbarry, where he spent his early years.

December 7, 2012 4:39am

Rupert Murdoch and Robert Thomson at The Wall Street Journal, in New York, when Mr Thomson was its managing editior. Photo courtesy of Joe Fornabaio, The Wall Street Journal.

Echuca-born Robert Thomson, son of a Torrumbarry Pub bartender, has been named incoming chief executive of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation.

Mr Thomson, 51, will take up the role from January 1 as part of the company’s restructure, which cleaves its print and entertainment interests into separate entities.

The publishing arm retains the name News Corporation, while other media and entertainment ventures will fall under the name Fox Group.

Mr Thomson was born to parents Jim and Gen (the latter from Shepparton’s O’Connell family and Ardmona’s Gaffey family) in Echuca and spent the first few years of his life in Torrumbarry, where Jim poured beers at the pub through the early 1960s.

Mr Thomson admitted earlier this year in a story for the Riverine Herald he had few recollections of Torrumbarry, but was proud of his roots and recently returned with overseas-born sons Luke and Jack to show them his home town.

‘‘When we (the Thomson family) left, I had a brother a year younger and the population went from 13 to nine,’’ he told the Riverine Herald.

‘‘The farmers would come in and there were no drink driving limits, so it was a different world from contemporary Torrumbarry. But I guess what’s remained the same is the pub. They have a little hotel-motel there now. I took my boys there just to show them.’’

He has indicated he may return next year to visit again.

The Thomson family had moved to Melbourne suburb Elwood by the time Robert was four after a short stint at Fosterville, near Bendigo.

When he finished school at St Kilda’s Christian Brothers’ College, he deferred Melbourne University law studies to work as a copy boy at the Melbourne Herald (now the Herald Sun) in 1979 and never looked back.

Mr Thomson has been managing editor of News Corp’s flagship US publication the Wall Street Journal and editor-in-chief of Dow Jones since 2008.

The dual-role followed jobs as managing editor of the Financial Times and, more recently, as the first internationally-born editor of the Times of London.

Mr Murdoch, Godfather to Mr Thomson’s sons, tweeted on Tuesday: ‘‘Congratulations to Robert Thomson, incoming CEO of our publishing company. A special leader and great friend. Also an Aussie!’’

Mr Murdoch will be chairman of both entities and CEO of Fox Group.

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