He looked me in the eye, held out his arm and slowly motioned his hand towards the floor.
Here, one of the captains of the publishing world - a Prince of Print - was explaining to me in unequivocal terms where he saw newspapers going.
“Down, down, down. It’s just too late for many of them,” he said.
Most would agree. As the way society connects has screamed ahead online, the newspaper industry has been left behind. Newspapers are now emblematic of life pre-Apple.
But is the show really over? Are newspapers as we know them doomed? Is it too late to save print?
Plummeting circulations across much of the western world would indicate so.
In Australia, total audience measurements paint a rosy picture of how big media groups are faring across platforms. In isolation, print numbers make for depressing reading.
As a former editor of daily newspapers, I was generally confident that hard work in the newsroom could bring a circulation dividend. That was not long ago. But, today, not even Moses could put a dent in the sea of red circ numbers.
This was never going to end well.
"I don't care what you tell me, what you show me, I don't believe this is going to work." And with that one statement, Houston, we had a problem.
The subject matter was a major editorial transformation project. It was bold, innovative and high risk. It was also absolutely necessary. Unfortunately, this senior executive wasn't having a bar of it. Deep down it rattled her values.
In the end, she stepped out of the way of the juggernaut of change that was bearing down on her and her newsroom. She was an editor with deep experience, wide respect - an honourable person. But without her leadership, without her belief in the project, it was destined to fail.
This tale is sadly a typical one of why editorial change programs fail - captured here in what I refer to as the Seven Deadly Sins of Transformation.
Stuart Howie is a Canberra-based communications consultant. He has worked with organisations, private and public, in Australia and New Zealand, helping them to discover, shape and tell their stories. He is the author of The DIY Newsroom, which won Social Media Book of the Year at the Australian Business Book Awards. Stuart has worked in media, publishing and communications for more than 30 years as an executive, editor and strategist.