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  The Profile
Michael Miller on soggy newspapers and selling ads
Michael Miller, executive chair for News Corp Australasia, has spent two decades at the publisher. We speak to him about what’s kept him in news media.
The media Michael Miller grew up with in regional
Australia has vastly changed. From the slow daily
news filled with community updates, to the fast-paced
nature of online global news. But unlike most, Miller,
as executive chair for News Corp Australasia, holds a key role in shap- ing the future of our media as it tries to forge forward amid challenges from digital platforms.
The son of a surgeon and school teacher, Miller grew up in the Hunter Valley. His childhood was filled playing sports with his two brothers and while media options were limited by today’s standards, news was another constant in his life.
“Growing up in regional Australia is probably the best part of the world to grow up in,” Miller says.
“You get the best of everything. You’re close to the land and you’re equally part of a community. Going back a bit now, media choices were not as much as you have today.”
In the Miller household, the radio, always AM, the Herald and The Australian papers were prominent sources of news.
“We always had the papers delivered and Dad would be woken up with the thud on the lawn,” he says. “Walking out amongst the dew to pick up the paper, which wasn’t cling wrapped, it was always wrapped in brown paper which made it even wetter in the dew.
“The radio was usually played over breakfast in the morning, as well. I can remember our first TV, which was black and white.
“The role of media was papers of record. You had Peter Roebuck on Cricket, and with the ABC, you had the doyennes of Four Corners and Countrywide. So for me, what you read in the paper was not just about truth, and about research. It became a source that you cut out and was a bit of a memory bank as well.”
Miller completed high school at Knox Grammar, after which he went on to study at the University of Technology Sydney in 1989. Not set on the media industry at the time, Miller was attracted to topics relating to society, history and culture.
“I did feel that part of an inquisitive mind when you are debating, listening and contributing to discussions around the table. It’s part of how I was brought up and I enjoyed that,” Miller says.
“I don’t know whether there was a tipping point [of knowing I was interested in media]. I think society, culture, history, humanities were the areas I enjoyed more. And definitely the business side, or how it all comes together, has been an area of my interest from probably when I left school into university.”
While studying his first year at university and trying to find a way to make ends meet, Miller landed his first role in the media industry at Tonkin Media. He started at the media representation business selling ads for Countdown magazine, and going on to work on Hero magazine and international media titles during his time there.
“It was good, at the end of the day we’re all sales people. We have to
“We all need to
do an element of selling what we
do and having a
bit of sales in your background is not a bad thing.”
sell what we do and sell the brands that we represent, so it was prob- ably good,” he says.
“Did I love it? Sales is never easy, you get plenty of knock backs. So early ‘90s, there was equally some tougher economic times, so it’s probably good to go through what tough times look like.”
From 1991, Miller spent two years working at the Commercial Economic Advisory Service of Australia (CEASA), which provided analysis on the market. During this time there was also the Print Media Inquiry taking place, and Kerry Packer’s bid to take over Fairfax Media. “I think that’s when I got a broader view of the mass media,” Miller says.
After his time at CEASA, Miller landed his first role at News Corp Australia, working as a research assistant in the marketing service department.
“I’m not sure what that would mean today. I remember we used to load up readership requests and put them in the computer at night and then come back in the morn- ing,” he says.
“This is the early ‘90s, we would sit down in the building and in the afternoon it would start to shudder and rumble as the press- ers would start up. The whole of Kippax Street would be full of ink trucks or paper trucks. You were close to it. It felt like you’re work- ing in the media, which you are seeing out of the building what was produced every morning, every afternoon with the afternoon and morning newspapers.”
With no big ambitions at the company he now oversees, Miller says he felt “fortunate” to be there.

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