Ian Macfarlane is content to ignore most business reporting. The former Reserve Bank of Australia governor did, however, read the work of six or so economic reporters.

“We talked to the press who had a long-standing commitment to the beat,” says Macfarlane. “Part of your job is getting your message out to the wider public.”

The man who was in charge of the central bank between 1996 and 2006 did not, however, personally talk to journalists. Instead he designated senior RBA officials to speak on a background basis to them.

Macfarlane, who is a non-executive director of ANZ, Leighton Holdings and Woolworths, says chief executives almost always win in a public conflict with their boards.

“CEOs control the channel of communications, investor relations and public relations,” he says.

Macfarlane bemoans how CEOs are treated as celebrities by many business reporters. “Media-savvy CEOs cultivate selected journalists who are flattered by the attention,” he says.

Macfarlane spoke at the Ownership Matters governance conference in Melbourne on April 3.

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