What happens when a rich Russian with 'foreign intelligence' connections - don't mention the KGB - moves on your paper, picks up the goodwill for peanuts and sets a demanding pace for its turnaround?
That's the scenario encountered by Doug Willis, managing editor of the London 'Evening Standard', who is the latest speaker to be announced for PANPA's 'Newspapers: The future forum' event in Sydney next month.
A growing line-up is slated for the one-day event at the Masonic Centre in Goulburn Street on September 10, followed by a gala Newspaper of the Year dinner at which actress Kelly Outzen will be handing out the prizes.
Once a healthy stablemate with the 'Daily Express', the 'Evening Standard' turned basket case with changing city reading (and advertising) habits, leading to the sale of a majority interest to Russian billionaire Alexander Lebedev for UK£1 ($2). He has estimated his commitment to it at nearer £30 million.
Wills will share the experience of building new audiences in print and digital under to meet the demands of its new owner, addressing innovation in editorial, advertising and circulation.
Programme for the event - to be opened by NSW premier Nathan Rees - has developed a second 'technical speaker' stream in the afternoon, including Fairfax print and logistics chief executive Bob Lockley and News Limited head of manufacturing Marcus Hooke.
In the morning session, keynote speaker Timothy Balding (joint chief executive of WAN-Ifra) is followed by Brendan Hopkins (CEO of APN News & Media). Wills is next up, with Mark Challinor of the UK's g8wave, European Océ digital print specialist Robert Koeckeis, and Tony Hale of The Newspaper Works following.
Main stream speakers in the afternoon include Darren Burden and Hegarty Prize winner Simon Holt, newspaper designer Jacek Utko, Norske Skog Australia president Peter Chrisp, Leo Burnett futures strategist Ben Hourahine, and News Digital Media chief executive Richard Freudenstein.
A small exhibition has evolved, with Ables, Adobe, Adstream, Atex, Bellatrix Systems, Creative Folks, eBook, Ferag, Ram Research, the Department of Innovation, Océ, Pongrass, Realview Technologies and Workstream Solutions taking space.
Attendance at the forum is free to members. Details from www.panpa.org.au