Brian McCarthy is going to have his wits about him when he becomes the next Fairfax Media chief as he seeks to revitalise the company after getting he nod for the top job this week.

McCarthy, an important part of Rural Press for 20 years before its merger with Fairfax Media last year, will be confirmed as the enlarged groups new chief executive at the next major board meeting.

Since the merger, McCarthy has led the Australian publishing operations of Fairfax (which publishes The Australian Financial Review and The Age), but will now also oversee Fairfax Digital, the New Zealand operations and its business publishing arm.

McCarthy replaces former All Black, David Kirk, who resigned on Friday after losing the confidence of the board as the groups share price plummeted.

Paul Myers, a former general manager at Rural Press, says McCarthy’s biggest challenge would be getting the acceptance of the editorial department at Fairfax.

“Clearly the company is not doing well and hes going to have to convince the editors and editorial departments that he can deliver,” explains Myers.

“They are going to have to work together because Fairfax has a history of journalists being fairly pro-active. Brian has worked successfully with editorial departments before, but this is a different kettle of fish.”