Rupert Murdoch's top spokesperson is leaving his media empire.
Teri Everett, senior vice president of corporate affairs and communications for Murdoch's News Corp., is exiting the media giant in two weeks.
The departure of Everett, who told Murdoch late last year that she wanted to leave because she was "ready for something new," comes as News Corp. tries to distance itself from the phone-hacking scandal at its British newspaper unit that has led to the closing of the News of the World tabloid, the resignations of top executives and the arrest of several staff members.
She had been with the company since 2000, working primarily with former News Corp. Chief Operating Officer Peter Chernin before being promoted to Murdoch's spokeswoman in 2009.
One of the challenges for News Corp.'s communications staff has been managing the ethics scandal. There were disputes within the company over how best to proceed. Early on, News Corp. executives mistakenly thought that the revelations of phone hacking by members of News of the World into voicemail accounts of celebrities and crime victims would not explode into a global story.
The communications team has had to walk a fine line between assuring Wall Street that the debacle has had little significance to the company's bottom line while appearing contrite to British officials probing the company.
In a statement, Murdoch said he was "grateful" to Everett's service to the company. Everett declined to discuss her future plans.
Henderson was not a surprise choice to succeed Everett. Over the last two years, she has developed a close working relationship with Chase Carey, News Corp.'s president and chief operating officer and the highest-ranking executive at the company to not have the last name Murdoch. Underscoring his reliance on her, Carey last year named Henderson to a high-level committee that brought the company's various divisions together to brainstorm new products, distribution models and approaches to marketing.
Carey is seen as likely to one day succeed Murdoch as chief executive until one of his children is ready to assume it. His youngest son, James Murdoch, had long been seen as the heir apparent, but he has been badly tarnished by the hacking scandal.
While Henderson will now be News Corp.'s top communications executive at the company -- she will serve in the newly created position of chief communications officer -- Murdoch will continue to also rely heavily on strategic advice from outside public relations firm Rubenstein Communications Inc.
-- Joe Flint and Dawn Chmielewski
Photo: Julie Henderson. Credit: News Corp.