Sometimes you’ve just gotta love Rupert Murdoch: a man who
seems to be able to hype a takeover campaign as well as Apple can hype a product
launch. Here he is talking
to Time’s Eric Pooley, and cocking a snook at the overstuffed
shirts of New York’s Journalistic Establishment.
“When the Journal gets its Page 3 girls, we’ll make sure they
The difference between Murdoch and someone like Arthur Sulzberger,
the proprietor of the New York Times, is that Murdoch clearly loves his job,
loves newspapers, and loves to enjoy himself while running a massive media company.
As a result, his papers are generally a joy to read. The NYT and the WSJ and
other pillars of the US establishment, by contrast, are so self-important that
they become dry and humorless: the journalistic equivalent of oat bran.
Murdoch understands that in order for newspapers to survive in the 21st century,
they will have to be something their readers want to read. The businessman
who dutifully subscribes to the WSJ is an anachronism, but if you put unique
and high-quality journalism online for free, where the whole world has access
to it, you can create a formidable brand. And Murdoch’s certainly thinking along
"A great, great newspaper with big, iconic names, outstanding writers,
reporters, experts. And then you make it free, online only. No printing plants,
no paper, no trucks. How long would it take for the advertising to come? It
would be successful, it would work and you’d make … a little bit of money.
Then again, the Journal and the Times make very little money now."
The money, of course, would come from a WSJ-branded TV station: the newspaper
itself would provide the brand.
If anybody is capable of reinventing the stodgy world of US broadsheet journalism,
and making it relevant and vibrant in the decades to come, then Murdoch is.
I’m looking forward to seeing what he’ll do.