David Montgomery, who graduated in politics from Queen’s University in Northern Ireland, is one of the UK’s best-known newspaper executives. He was successively editor-in-chief of the former News Corp national papers, the News of the World and Today, and CEO of the Daily Mirror group for the eight years after the dramatic death of owner Robert Maxwell. Montgomery founded the Mecom Group, an investor in newspapers across Europe, and also Local World Ltd, a uk regional group subsequently sold to Trinity Mirror (now Reach Plc). He is now executive chair and founder of the listed company National World Plc which last year acquired JPI Media, the UK’s third largest regional publisher, for £10.2m – a price possibly equivalent to 1.5 x EBITDA. The company now has a market cap of £78m.
What motivated you to switch from being an editor to CEO? I have never stopped being an editor because, ultimately, content drives revenue and profits
As a newspaper editor for News Corp in the UK, what impressed you most about Rupert Murdoch?
His relentless inquisitiveness, always questioning his editors and managers, but most of all challenging himself before making a decison
What surprised you most at the post-Maxwell Mirror Group Newspapers?
That he left many victims who had been taken in by his charisma and who he seduced or bullied through small scale corruption. There was, of course, the hidden surveillance chamber to eavesdrop both on his employees and visitors
Why did Mecom fail? Multiple reasons following the financial and advertising collapse in 2008. There was an orderly but non-optimal disposal process of assets. All debt was repaid and long-term shareholders who stuck with it got back their original investment, as I did
What’s so special or distinctive about National World?
It is on the side of the communities it serves
What is your vision of the company in, say, five years?
That, along with other premium content businesses, its value is recognised both in public service and financial terms, to some extent redressing the dominance of social media platforms
What is your primary role at National World?
The team leader
What is the future of print newspapers? To promote the rebirth and elevation of reliable journalism
Which company (other than your own) do you most admire and why? DMGT because it matches commitment to news publishing with creative and investment expertise.
What’s the biggest lesson you have learned as a business executive? Identify and support a talented team
How, eventually, would you most like to be remembered? I performed a Mozart sonata without fluffing too many notes (I’m still rehearsing)
National World Plc