Rupert Murdoch is Enjoying Himself

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

have MBAs.”

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

those lines.

"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.

(Via Kedrosky)

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