Will News Corp. leave the news business?

The question is, what’s more valuable to the Murdoch clan: power or money?

I’d follow the money every time. Oh, Dad, cares about power, for sure. He cares about his legacy, too. Given his time left on this earth, I’d say there’s no time to repair that legacy in journalistic and political terms. If he also leaves a company worth nothing to his heirs, then he has no tangible legacy. That is surely what his heirs care most about — most do: money.

So I wonder whether News Corp. will have to get out of the news business to save the business of News Corp. For it’s not so bad to be rapacious when you’re in the entertainment business.

You might say that Rupert would have his newspapers pried from his dead hands and that might well be the case. But know well that he is not loyal to media. I used to work for TV Guide. He loved magazines then. Things turned sour. He got rid of them. He worked his ass off to get satellite TV in the US. When he had it, it turned out to be inconvenient; he got rid of it. When he had a choice of owning TV stations or newspapers in Boston and Chicago, there went the papers.

So I could see stockholders and managers and heirs pressure Murdoch to get rid of his news properties.

Only problem is, who’d want them? The News of the World is dead. The Sun has been eclipsed by the Daily Mail in the online and global future. Murdoch gave up on the future for The Times of London when he built his wall around it. But that also means it’s not so valuable a bully pulpit anymore, what with only 100k online readers versus the enemy Guardian’s tens of millions. The New York Post, on which he loses tens of millions of dollars a year just as the price of a bully pulpit, would die, unless there’s an ego and bank account even bigger than Rupert’s to resurrect it once again. He sold his other pulpit, The Standard. Fox News? Ah, that’s interesting. Maybe we should all gang together on Kickstarter and buy it, eh? There’d be a market for that thing and maybe that’d be good for the country. Sky News? He’d already sacrificed that to get BSkyB (see: money trumps power). The Australian papers? A fine spun-off gift for Lachlan, I’d say.

Oops. I forgot the Wall Street Journal on which Rupert overspent mightily. You want to leave a legacy, Rupert: Make it the beneficiary of the Murdoch Trust (just as the Guardian is to be sustained in perpetuity by its Scott Trust).

And what’s left? A gigantic, profitable media conglomerate and an inheritance for the Murdoch clan.

  • “Will News Corp. leave the news business?”

    The information business is leaving the news business in much the same way the transportation industry left the railroad industry.

    Said the railroad magnet to his cigar smoking buddies at the country club, “Why should I care about trucks when I’m in the railroad business?”

    “Because the trucking industry has revealed that transportation is the service and your old-fashioned, expensive, fixed route, formerly competition-free locomotives and boxcars were a means to an end, not the end themselves,” says the unafraid son of a fellow brandy sipper home from university for the summer.

    Disappear? Kill? Nope. Displaced as the center of the gravity. Count on it.
    Any major player in a last century industry could pioneer the game-changing future that leaves competitors scrambling (and competitors’ investors fleeing) with some philosophy help from outside, but it is rare. Rarer still is closing a 168 year old business.

    News Corp might be in the best position of all to make this move, as counterintuitive as that may seem.


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  • And here I thought News Corp. was in the entertainment business. I’ve never really seen them as a news company.

  • Nanker Phelge

    >>>You want to leave a legacy, Rupert: Make it the beneficiary of the Murdoch Trust (just as the Guardian is to be sustained in perpetuity by its Scott Trust).

    If you look at the numbers, the Guardian isn’t going to be around for this whole decade, never mind perpetuity.

  • Ken L.

    I’ve followed your writings for awhile, since you’re one of the few news dinosaurs who fully glimpses the digital revolution.

    But this post. This post makes it clear that you’re not a serious man who understand the world we live in.

    You’re a silly person.

  • the murdoch clan will always go for money. Greed is the source of all evil.

  • Spencer Reiss

    No good deed goes unpunished. Thanks for saving Fleet Street (from itself) in the 80s, Rupert–your only mistake was hanging around. Oh, and sorry about your Sunday, NotW readers–enjoy the Guardian.

  • Andy Freeman

    > Greed is the source of all evil.

    Not even close. Envy is far worse.

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  • Thanks Jeff for your insightful analysis and Twitter coverage of the Murdoch scandals. I’m going to try to watch the live UK Parliament coverage of the hearing of the Murdochs (likely minus Rebekah Brooks, I suspect).

    Now re Guardian, I live in Canada but I love it and trust its reports. But when I read a recent AdWeek article about Alan Rusbridger, Guardian’s editor, I was surprised to learn the following. I want to hear your thought. Is Guardian really in lots of trouble? That will suck as I’ve come to trust their international coverage and is one of my “goto” source for UK news for sure.

    “But this moment in the sun for Rusbridger and The Guardian comes at a time when the paper itself is facing an uncertain future. A trust that has kept the paper alive is drying up, the parent company’s losses totaled $53 million last year alone, and layoffs are imminent.”


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  • You know what the actual problem with the most of the women is? They are way far too nice. Catering their each and every need. You should really just attempt to stand up for yourself instead to make sure he is the one who works to get an attention from you. That is how it ought to be in nature.