Bill O'Neill (media)

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For other people named William O'Neill, see William O'Neill (disambiguation).
Bill O'Neill
Bill O'Neill in 2014.jpg
Born (1936-05-22) May 22, 1936 (age 78)
North Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Citizenship United States/Australia
Occupation Former Director of News Corporation
Former EVP of News Corporation
CEO of News International, EVP and GM of New York Post
Spouse(s) Alene Joy Brown, m. 1962
Children Son, David; daughter, Vicki (1965)
Parents John O'Neill
Margaret Kitson

William Alan O'Neill (born May 22, 1936) is the Australian-American former media executive who, in a 50-year career, held multiple positions within News Corporation, including two separate terms as head of News International, a Director on the company's main board, and Executive Vice President of News Corporation with global responsibility for human resources.[1]

Early life and career[edit]

O'Neill and his two brothers were born in Sydney, Australia, to Irish parents, John and Margaret O'Neill (née Kitson). They grew up in the northern suburb of Chatswood.

In 1952 he commenced a six-year apprenticeship as a hand and machine compositor with Truth and Sportsman, publisher of the Sydney Daily Mirror. After completing his apprenticeship and military draft commitment in the Australian Army, he traveled to the United States, where in 1958, he joined the International Typographical Union in San Francisco. He returned to Australia and the Daily Mirror as a Linotype operator just before the company was bought by Rupert Murdoch. He brought an interest in trade unionism with him from America and became a vice president of the New South Wales branch of the Printing Industries Employees' Union of Australia. Disenchanted with union politics,[2] he joined a research and development team within Murdoch's News Limited and after a short time was selected to lead the company's industrial relations.

In 1981 he was sent to London to negotiate with the Fleet Street unions.[3] A successful agreement allowed Rupert Murdoch to purchase The Times and Sunday Times. O'Neill and fellow British negotiator, John Collier, were named Joint General Managers of Times Newspapers Limited and appointed to its board.[4]

In 1983 he negotiated with the print unions for their entry to the new print center at Wapping.[5] Talks broke down[6] and he took over duties in New York as Vice President/Labor Relations at News America.[7] His responsibilities involved the New York Post, the Boston Herald, the San Antonio Express-News and the Chicago Sun-Times.

In 1985 he was sent back to London to again negotiate with the print unions regarding Wapping.[8] These talks were unsuccessful and led to the 13-month long Wapping dispute.[9]

Most of 1986 saw him fulfilling the role of General Manager at the New York Post[10] and meeting with the British unions in an attempt to bring the strike to an end.[11] At the beginning of 1987 he took over as Managing Director of News International,[12] responsible for The Times, the Sunday Times, The Sun, the News of the World and later, the Today newspaper.

He was appointed to the News Corporation Board of Directors[13] that year and served until 1990. He transferred management of News International to Gus Fischer and returned to the United States at the beginning of 1990 to lead News Corporation's global human resources program.[14] On November 25, 1990, O'Neill arrived in Geneva, Switzerland, to represent the United States as the employer delegate at a tripartite meeting[15] of the International Labor Organization. He had been nominated to attend by the American Newspaper Publishers Association. The week-long meeting was convened to discuss the international working conditions of journalists. Little was achieved and this led The Guild Reporter, voice of The Newspaper Guild to write in its issue of December 14, 1990, "the cause was the U.S. labor-management issues that simmered constantly beneath the surface."

O'Neill testified before a U.S. Congressional Committee in 1991 as an expert witness on the Striker Replacement Bill.[16] In 1993 he led the management team negotiating with the unions [17] that led to News Corporation reacquiring the New York Post.[18] That year he became a United States citizen.

In 1995 he was back at Wapping,[19] this time as CEO,[20]while a management reshuffle was effected.[21] At year's end he handed over control of News International to incoming chairman, Les Hinton.[22]

Until his retirement[1] in 2002, he continued in his role as News Corporation's Executive Vice President of Human Resources. He left the company exactly 50 years from the day he started on the Sydney Daily Mirror as a 15-year-old apprentice.[23]

In July 2011, at the height of the phone hacking scandal at the News of the World, he was contacted by the BBC's Business Daily Program [24] and interviewed on his years with News Corporation and his impression of Rupert Murdoch's contribution to the newspaper publishing industry.

Personal life[edit]

He married Alene Joy Brown in February 1962. They live in San Antonio, Texas,[25] near daughter, Vicki. Their son, David, died on February 19, 2012, after, like his father, a lifetime career in newspapers.[26] O'Neill is a lifetime member of the American Australian Association.[27]


  1. ^ a b News Corp Press Release, Jan. 14, 2002.'Neill/483049
  2. ^ The History of The Times, Graham Stewart, HarperCollins, London, 2005. Page 33. ISBN 978-0-00-718438-5
  3. ^ Tough talker at The Times, Financial Times, February 9, 1981. Written by John Lloyd.
  4. ^ John Collier's obituary, June 3, 2005,
  5. ^ Papers face jobs battle London Morning Star, March 16, 1983.
  6. ^ EDDIE SHAH and the Newspaper Revolution, David Goodhart and Patrick Wintour, Coronet Books/Hodder and Stoughton, London, 1986. Page 264.
  7. ^ New York Post, March 29, 1984.
  8. ^ Full Disclosure, Andrew Neil, Macmillan Publishers Ltd., London, 1996, Page 106.
  9. ^ The End of the Street, Linda Melvern, Methuen London Ltd., 1986. Page 241.
  10. ^ Editor and Publisher, July 5, 1986
  11. ^ Hot Mettle, Brenda Dean, Politico's Publishing Ltd., London, 2007. Page 172.
  12. ^ Don't look at us in terms of conflict, says O'Neill, UK Press Gazette, June 22, 1987.
  13. ^ News Corporation directors appointed. New York Times, June 11, 1987.
  14. ^ Murdoch Units Shift Officials, New York Times, January 18, 1990.
  15. ^ Tripartite Meeting on Conditions of Employment and Work of Journalists
  16. ^ Hearings on H.R.5, The Striker Replacement Bill, Committee on Education and Labor, 102nd U.S. Congress, March 13, 1991, Serial #102-19. Pages 387-404
  17. ^ ,Murdoch tells of $350,000 weekly deficits at the Post, New York Times, April 3, 1993.
  18. ^ Labor concessions gained by Murdoch restore The Post, New York Times, July 13, 1993.
  19. ^ Wapping job for Post's Bill O'Neill, New York Post, March 17, 1995 (from Bloomberg Business News)
  20. ^ A New Murdoch Aide in London New York Times, March 17, 1995
  21. ^ "Wapping crisis claims another casualty". The Independent. 18 March 1995. 
  22. ^ "BA seeks theatre designer to revamp first class cabins". Marketing Week. 12 May 1995. 
  23. ^ "Wapping dispute boss retires". Printweek. 18 January 2002. 
  24. ^ "BBC iPlayer - Business Daily: End of empire for Rupert Murdoch?". 2011-07-20. Retrieved 2012-03-05. 
  25. ^ London Guardian, July 12, 2011.
  26. ^ "San Antonio Express-News Production Technician David O'Neill Dies at 47 - See more at:". Editor and Publisher. 24 February 2012. 
  27. ^ Who's Who (in Britain) 2001-2012, A & C Black, London, and Who's Who in Australia 2001-2014, Crown Content, Melbourne.

External links[edit]