Obituary: Russell Norden, 1949-2017

3 minute read

Medical publishing raconteur, and one of our most iconic industry characters, Russell Norden, has died aged 67


Medical publishing raconteur, and one of our most iconic industry characters, Russell Norden, has died aged 67, following a short battle with cancer.

Russell, who created occasional mayhem working for Chris Wills and MIMs in his early medical publishing career, is most well-recognised as the founding sales director of Australian Doctor, and later, after it was sold to Reed Business Information in 1987, as its longest serving and most successful publisher.

Russell is generally recognised as the force behind the rise of Australian Doctor to become the industry’s pre-eminent weekly medical publication.

Russell’s character is perhaps summed up by his love for and involvement in racing car driving. Prior to working in medical publishing, Russell drove Australian Formula 2 and was a front-runner in the 1980 and 1981 National Championships. He worked as a high-performance driving coach for Peter Wherrett and even raced in the opening round of the Australian Drivers Championship in 1982.

Russell brought much of his on-track competitiveness and persona to his work in medical publishing. Whether you were his boss or his competitor, he gave you little very little room to manoeuvre. He was a voracious defender of his brands, to the point where he would sometimes clash with senior management, especially if he felt decisions were being made too far away from his clients.

In 2000, Australian Doctor was enjoying its most successful years, but Russell’s high-profile style made him a target for a new Dutch boss who arrived in Australia on a mission to make his own mark. Within a few weeks of arriving, the new boss called Russell to his office and declared, “Russell, there can only be one God in the company and from this point on it is going to have to be me, not you.”

Russell, in his typical style, felt his boss was wrong, and stood his ground.

He left Australian Doctor in 2002, after 15 years on the title, to pursue another great passion of his, complementary medicine. Within a short time he had launched a national journal in a market no-one had previously believed was big enough to sustain a title. Russell’s energy and weight of personality convinced much of the industry to come on board, and for six years he published a very high-quality journal in the field.

Russell will live on in the memory of many in the industry, staff and bosses alike. Although, as a strong personality, Russell did clash with staff at times, most loved him as a boss and appreciated his outlandish style.

One who is working for us at The Medical Republic today, who worked for Russell in her very first publishing job, broke into tears when she learnt of Russell’s passing, although she had not seen him in nearly 10 years.

She tells the story of how Russell, upset one day with the complementary industry’s largest advertiser for pulling an ad at the last minute, insisted production staff  leave the reserved page  blank except to print on it in bold “This page is blank because [ advertiser] couldn’t get their act together.”

Typical Russell front.  He was never one to back away from his heartfelt convictions.

Russell is survived by his partner Clare, son Alex and daughter Katherine.

End of content

No more pages to load

Log In Register ×