It's official: Chief executive Mark Hollands is leaving PANPA following its merger into The Newspaper Works.
He is travelling overseas next month - including a visit to a crime writers' festival in the UK in late May - and is expected to write a book on his return.
There had been speculation that Hollands - credited with 'saving' PANPA and certainly the best thing that had happened to the Australian newspaper organisation for years - would leave since the takeover by TNW, an advertising-orientated conglomerate formed by major publishers. At SWUG, delegates were talking of the trip and the book, but Mark Hollands did not respond to requests for confirmation and further information.
Now an announcement in the TNW 'News Now' email newsletter (picture) coincides with a LinkedIn posting 'Looking forward to crime writers festival in Bristol, UK, next month!’. The CrimeFest 2012 event is being held in the English seaport from May 24-27.
TNW chief executive Tony Hale, who was appointed in 2006, a couple of years before Hollands joined PANPA from Dow Jones and Gartner, says his arrival “like the white tornado of the Ajax ads” saved the organisation from almost certain extinction.
In fact, PANPA had certainly gone through a series of poor appointments following the departure of longstanding executive director Frank Kelett, and was in a parlous financial state. The glory days of multistream PANPA conferences with 1000-plus attendances and strongly-supported exhibitions had passed.
If the organisation was in danger, it was because of traditional suppliers’ inability or unwillingness to continue bankrolling activities and events, and the major newspaper publishers’ new-found ability to work together.
Eventually, that ability spawned the reality that if they were paying for TNW and the greater proportion of PANPA’s costs, they could call the tune, and PANPA moved from being a members’ association to an owned group earlier this year.
Hale credits Holland with a string of initiatives including the free Future Forum, revitalised Newspaper of the Year awards, an e-newsletter, sports rights negotiations and more recently, a vital role in defining a more effective model for the Australian Press Council.
“It is a testament to Mark that we have now come full circle and the newspaper industry will have one industry organisation to speak with a strong, single voice,” he says. “This was Mark's vision.”
In the e-newsletter he created, tributes flow from senior industry executives including former PANPA president Joe Talcott, Fairfax chief executive Greg Hywood, editor-in-chief of the ‘West Australian’ Bob Cronin, AAP editor-in-chief Tony Gillies, and Ross McPherson, executive chairman of McPherson Media Group.
Mark Hollands joined PANPA in May 2008 from Dow Jones, where he had been Asia Pacific sales director. Prior to that, he had worked for Gartner and IDG Communications after leaving News Limited (where he had held a variety of roles including technology editor of ‘The Australian’).
His last day with PANPA/TNW is this Thursday, May 3.
While this may be crime writing’s gain, it would be a shame if the knowledge he gained and shared – and the passion for the industry – were the Australian newspaper industry’s loss. But have a great break, Mark.