McDONALD, KEITH HENRY (1926–2012)
Keith McDonald was an astute and ethical newspaper manager and finance journalist who served two generations of the Murdoch family dynasty, despite working for the ‘opposition’ for 33 years. He grew up at Biggenden in southern Queensland, graduating with a Bachelor of Commerce with first class honours from the University of Queensland in 1949.
McDonald worked as a finance journalist, financial adviser and finance editor before moving into management at the Courier-Mail in 1951. In September 1952, Sir Keith Murdoch, the proprietor of the Courier-Mail and executive chairman of the Herald and Weekly Times (HWT), sent him to Mildura to try to acquire the local Sunraysia Daily. McDonald formulated an acquisition proposal, but Sir Keith died in October 1952 before it could be submitted. The HWT acquired the Courier-Mail from the Murdoch estate in November 1953.
McDonald became the general manager of Queensland Newspapers Pty Ltd (the publisher of two dailies and a Sunday paper) from 1968–76, managing director from 1976–86 and chief executive from 1986–91. As chairman of Queensland Press Ltd, 46 per cent owned by the HWT, he was part of the bidding war for HWT that ensued after Rupert Murdoch’s audacious takeover bid in December 1986. Queensland Press’s 24 per cent interest in HWT played a ‘key role’ in determining the eventual victor. From February 1987, McDonald was working for a Murdoch again, and was made a director of News Corporation (1987–98).
McDonald was appointed OBE in 1989, and awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Queensland in 1998. In March 2012, News Limited’s Queensland headquarters was named Keith McDonald House. When McDonald died, Murdoch initiated an award for business journalism in his honour.
REFs: Courier-Mail, 3 December 2012; K.H. McDonald, interviews with R. Kirkpatrick (1992 and 2005).