News Corp picks Cheesbrough to lead technology strategy

News Corp is promoting its News International (UK) chief information officer (CIO) Paul Cheesbrough to drive its technology initiatives and reorganisation, as it begins separating corporate IT systems.

Cheesbrough will be News Corp chief technology officer (CTO), reporting to Rupert Murdoch, who says (via release):

“Paul is the rare technologist who is both a visionary and a builder. He will be a driving force as we continue to harness very real opportunities in digital that are deepening our brands’ connection with consumers.

“Paul has led a truly impressive digital reinvention of News International that has positioned our media properties at the forefront of the industry today.

“I am delighted to expand the scope of his leadership to encompass all of our publishing, media and entertainment assets.”

News Corp named John McKinley CTO in February 2011. Its chief digital officer Jon Miller left in August. “McKinley … has departed to concentrate on a start-up project and spend more time with his family, according to a company spokesman.”

Cheesbrough has gained respect for building out a product-centric technology team with some former Apple and Google staff at the UK news publisher since joining in 2010 from The Telegraph. He has also helped implement paid content initiatives at The Times and Sunday Times, and transitioned many News International systems to Google Apps. Despite mature development, Project Alesia, a News International initiative to aggregate material from multiple publishers, could not get off the ground, due to lack of peer support.

In a witness witness statement presented to a London High Court case in to phone hacking in February, Cheesbrough said that all News International email archives up to September 2007 were deleted by the technology department in January 2011, in line with company policy.

At The Telegraph, Cheesbrough led the systems side of the publisher’s big relocation to a multimedia newsroom and migrated the company to Google Apps.

News Corp’s upcoming separation in to two companies (one for audio-visual entertainment; another for news and education publishing) will require a separation of systems.

News International’s CFO Susan Panuccio is also transferring to work on the split.