Posts about murdoch

Murdoch clip job

I’m not sure why the Times needed five journalists and an above-the-fold front-page slot for its long story about Rupert Murdoch today. I learned virtually nothing new. It’s what we in the biz call a clip job: take out the clips and start writing.

Separately, I’ve been amused by the Bancrofts’ apparent efforts to keep Murdoch from controlling the Journal in any way — not only because you can’t sell something and then keep controlling it but also because in every other discussion of media today, owners who do not take a direct role in their publications are vilified as absentee. The Bancrofts have been absentee owners and they want to continue without owning and stop the owner from doing his job.

We get it. You don’t like him. But business isn’t about liking. And this is a business.

Rupert’s allies

In this week’s Media Guardian podcast, Emily Bell, director of digital content at GU, comes out in support of Rupert Murdoch’s purchase of Dow Jones. She echoes Juan Antonio Giner, who says:

Excuse me, but I have been reading the WSJ for many years and the “editorial voice” of the paper was, and is, one of the most right wing voices of the newspaper world.

But more than that: do you know, my friends, ANY newspaper owner that doesn’t control the “editorial voice” of his paper?

C’mon!

The Wall Street Journal under Rupert Murdoch will NOT be able to be more right wing than it is now.

But The Wall Street Journal under Rupert Murdoch will perhaps have a better multimedia and online strategy and business management.

And perhaps he will invest and re-invest some of the money that the Bancroft family is pocketing today from profits and dividends.

If I were a journalist or an editor at the WSJ I would not be worried about who controls the “editorial voice” of the paper, but about if the people who run the company have a serious multimedia and online strategy, are ready to invest a lot of money in that vision and keep the newsroom doing its job as well as it has been — including the “editorial voice” of the editorial pages.

In an interview with Murdoch in the Journal itself — a long, Talmudic dissection of editorial governance of the Journal and of every apparent Murdoch sin the Journal could find — he talks about the company’s future:

I think it’s in the digital area, digital and TV. And I think we’ve got to pour some money into digital. We’ve got to do a lot of things there… There’s so much going on on the Internet. We’ve got to find new ways and new business models to get revenues. Or else the world is going to be owned by Google. . . .

The Internet is a great leveler. All newspapers count for less these days. So … as far as I’m concerned, I want to drive News Corp., as I’ve said, into being the greatest content company, whether it’s in news, opinions, writing or whether it be film or television. I mean there are so many new pipes in how you deliver these things.

Scott Karp takes him to task for pipe-thinking:

“New pipes”? Is Murdoch part of the Ted Stevens school of Web conceptualization? Pipes are emblematic of the old monopoly distribution models that put Murdoch on top — wishful thinking.

I usually also lampoon pipe-think but Murdoch is not talking about the power of distribution, the way he used to (when he owned a satellite company). He’s talking about content. And he’s talking about economic viability:

WSJ: One thing to address, you obviously have a great love of newspapers, but you’re also a business man…

Mr. Murdoch: Had to be. I mean, if they’re not viable, the papers die.

And he’s also talking about community. The Journal asks why he didn’t end up going for Tribune Company:

Mr. Murdoch: Don’t want to spend the rest of my life going through that, getting rid of people, ugly. I think they’re in decline, they can fire a few hundred people everywhere, save a couple of hundred million dollars … I guess they will have a billion a year to pay down the debt, that’s what it sounds like. No, a bit less … I would have thought that, although the decline in readership … will probably go on…

WSJ: They’re all going to MySpace.

Mr. Murdoch: I wish they were. They’re all going to Facebook at the moment.

The question is, will Dow Jones have a better future under Murdoch than under the Bancrofts or the other not-serious buyers who are supposedly surfacing (gee, Tierney has done such a bangup job in Philadelphia so far)? I’d vote for News Corp.

McGraw Hill Media: Rupert Murdoch

Murdoch is being interviewed by Steve Adler, editor of Business Week. Limited live-blogging:

On newspapers: “I think they’re very vulnerable… We have to learn to look at them quite differently.” On the Tribune bid: “I don’t really believe it’s going to happen.” He was willing to go along if he got a joint operating agreement with the Post and Newsday, “which would give us real supremacy here…. So we don’t want the whole thing…. It scares me. The probllem about newspapers as they stand at the moment is that young readership is going down…” Asked whether he’d sell of newspapers, he said no. Asked whether the Post will be a viable business, he says, “if we could pull off this Newsday deal, yes, in five minutes.” He grins. Asked whether he’s still interested in Dow Jones, given the fate of papers, he says, “I must say, I’m cooling on it.” He says that taking the news out of the Journal to go online “has taken the urgency out of it,” and he finds that he puts the Journal aside to read the longer analytical pieces later and just doesn’t get around to it.

On politics: He argues that Fox is fair and balanced. Damnit. He lists the opinion shows: “O’Reilly is thought to be very conservative. I think he’s actually more populist.” And so on. “It’s just that we report both sides, quite a new thing.” He grins. Adler asks: “Clarify your views on Hillary Clinton. I don’t quite understand where you are.” Murdoch: “Nor do I… she’s a very intelligent lady, very calculating. I think that unfortunately, she’s a bit divisive… She’s way to the left on some social issues, which is OK. But I’m not really frightened of her on foreign affairs and defense.” He says she would be “a lot stronger, subtler” than her husband was. “She’s very impressive, I must say.” He says that if you read what she says about the war, she leaves her options open. “We’ve made a lot of mistakes in the war,” he says. Vs. Bush: “I hope she would have run it better.” He says the man he’d love to see get into it would be Newt Gingrich: “He would lift the debate.” He extols the virtues of Bloomberg — “you wouldln’t get an abler chief executive for the country” — but says he’d be to the left of Hillary and that would hurt him in the center of the country.

On Borat: “We laughed like hell at it. We went out to dinner and laughed some more… I don’t think it destroyed our culture or anything.” And it showed that “Americans can laugh at themselves.”