THE BLOG
07/09/2015 13:14 BST | Updated 07/09/2016 06:12 BST

Rebekah Brooks' First Day in the Office

As News UK's new chief executive officer settles herself under her new desk at the Baby Shard it is a good time to ask which Rebekah Brooks started work today?

Was it the flame haired networker of the early Noughties with a contact book to die for?

Or was it the ashen-faced and contrite mother who suffered a two-year ordeal at the hands of the Metropolitan Police with every aspect of her life publicly exposed before being cleared of all charges?

The answer is neither.

The Rebekah Brooks at the helm of News UK is very different from the CEO who stepped down following the closure of the News of the World four years ago.

For one thing, that Filofax is slimmer than it used to be. The politicians and celebrities drawn to the Murdoch family and Rebekah like moths to a lightbulb are warier now. But the Brooks circle is tighter than it used to be and she knows who her real friends are, even within the Murdoch family.

I worked with Rebekah for almost a decade at the News of the World and News International. The claims during the 2014 hacking trial that she had little grasp of day to day details obscures that fact she always had a laser-like view of the big challenges.

It is that focus that Rupert Murdoch wants back at the help here in London.

Since she was acquitted in June 2014, Rebekah has been linked to moves to New York, Ireland and elsewhere.

For the past 12 months Rebekah has been quietly moving around News Corporation's extended business empire in preparation for today.

In both New York and Ireland she spent time examining solutions for Rupert Murdoch's biggest challenge - the one he needs to win to secure his empire for the next generation:

How can News Corp dominate the digital world as it has the newsprint, television and film industries?

Back in London, the challenge is laid out in stark relief.

Sales of The Sun, Britain's biggest-selling newspaper, have fallen 34 percent since she left in 2011, while the paper has failed to carve out a niche online unlike fierce rival the Daily Mail which boasts one of the most popular websites in the world.

Importantly its brand has become stale. New editor Tony Gallagher has been given the challenge of reinvigorating the paper and its staff.

The Times has fared better, with sales down by 11 percent, while an online pay wall helped the paper to post an operating profit for the first time in 13 years in 2014.

There John Witherow has driven his journalists hard and is seen to have reaped the rewards.

But the challenge both newspapers face is the same.

How do you leverage the equity of these brands in a digital world? Or do you need new brands that can tap in to new markets?

Over the past 12 months News Corp, the global parent company, has bought some businesses that provide strong clues to the future direction of the company's digital future.

In America, realltor.com, the online estate agency was acquired last year. In India, Big Decisions and Proptiger (education and property websites). In Europe, Storyful, the online news agency.

Pumping out quality tailored content to selected and relevant audiences is widely seen to be the best way to win on the web ... if you don't have a brand like mailonline or Buzzfeed.

And it's not a new model - BskyB have been following the same method - niche channels offering targeted advertising to self-selecting audiences - for decades.

So, refreshing News UK's premium brands and finding ways to push content to hard-to-reach audiences are the top priorities from today.

Oh, and the challenge of a potential corporate charge over phone hacking and dealing with disgruntled ex-employees.

That's easily enough to justify a £3m salary.