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Business - Written by on Tuesday, November 18, 2008 17:01 - 6 Comments

Rupert Murdoch’s Take on the Future of Newspapers

Recently, media magnate Rupert Murdoch delivered a series of lectures with the Australia Broadcasting Corporation’s through their annual Boyer Lecture Series. He had some interesting ideas about the future of media, especially on the relevance of newspapers in a world of digital media.

Mr. Murdoch is no stranger to political controversy and variety; his board seat with libertarian think tank the Cato Institute says one thing, his endorsement of Hillary Clinton certainly says another. His political ideas aside, he’s got some cogent ideas about the role newspapers need to take in competing with their solely-online brethren (The Huffington Post, Slate). In the third lecture of the series, titled The Future of Newspapers: Moving Beyond Dead Trees, Murdoch suggests we’re “moving from news papers to news brands“, and I agree.

Murdoch advocates for a “repositioning” of what created newspaper loyalty in the first place:

“I like the look and feel of newsprint as much as anyone. But our real business isn’t printing on dead trees. It’s giving our readers great journalism and great judgment.”

At their best, news articles are well-explained stories—filled with a coherent narrative, good intuition, and insight. But the Internet is again turning raw information into a commodity. I was having a conversation with another Wikinomics contributor, Denis, and he said that he often only skims the news sections of the Globe and Mail now, as he’s read most of that content on other sites online. Instead, he says he finds himself lingering on the Op/Ed sections, where these journalists earn their keep by offering thought-provoking opinions and occasionally inflammatory polemic. I too find myself focusing on the opinion pieces, as I enjoy exploring what makes people come to entirely different opinions when exposed to the same set of facts.

Now while I agree that newspapers are becoming more brand-aware, what’s the other side of the coin in this argument? What are the concerns? The first one that jumps into mind is kind readers will forget “let the reader beware”, and take things as gospel—conveniently unaware of the editorial colouring. My sister, a journalist with the Winnipeg Free Press mentioned that good writing, even if it is heavy on the opinion, has that expository section where the author sets up the facts, then explores the implications of those facts. I think we’ll need to trust the reading audience to find those sections. As a Net Gener, I fully ascribe to the “trust, but verify” school of thought, which serves me well when venturing down the Fox News rabbit hole.

Here’s a strange idea: maybe internet content could push educators to focus more on teaching critical reading and logic, giving young people even better tools with which they can explore their world. A little idealistic; it’s already going on independently, so why not ride that wave?

Newspapers are no longer confined to the front steps of your home anymore, and by using the internet as their new medium, Murdoch has certainly made me rethink their imminent demise. Online outlets like Slate and The Huffington Post have done fantastic jobs of offering their angle on issues political and otherwise, and have real cachet with their readers. The line that stands out in Rupert’s talk is a harbinger for editors reluctant to embrace a new platform:

“My summary of the way some of the established media has responded to the internet is this: it’s not newspapers that might become obsolete. It’s some of the editors, reporters, and proprietors who are forgetting a newspaper’s most precious asset: the bond with its readers.”

Newspapers will have to fight to carve out those editorial niches, but it’ll pay handsome dividends. But will they take license with that “bond” they have with their readers? The end of that story rests with their readers. They’re a discerning bunch, but navigating the landscape may be more subtle than merely reading the words “fair and balanced” on the nameplate.


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Denis Hancock
Nov 19, 2008 8:33

Great find, and I’m not just saying that because I’m mentioned in the article :) .

Murdoch’s transcript is a wonderful read. Each time I read something that seemed interesting enough to throw up on the comments, I ran into another statement I liked even better. But this one ended up being my personal favorite:

“A recent American study reported that many editors and reporters simply do not trust their readers to make good decisions. Let’s be clear about what this means. This is a polite way of saying that these editors and reporters think their readers are too stupid to think for themselves.”

I also love the “prisoners of the past, rather than enthusiasts for the future” line.

Jan 21, 2009 0:49

Can a wiki focusing on a local community, its news, people, commerce, and events supplant the role of the newspaper? The Village Voyage project explores this answer with its new website: http://www.VillageVoyage.com . In many ways, it is an on-line newspaper, but in other ways it is a community portal and business directory inviting local businesses to carve out their own little piece of the internet: http://www.villagevoyage.com/help/help_business.php5 .

Evan in its infancy, Village Voyage is off to a tremendous start. With over 7 million wiki articles, it currently ranks as the world’s largest English wiki, and yet it continues to grow.

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Ramnik Singh Walia
May 7, 2009 12:56

The Boyer Lecture 2008 was presented by Rupert Murdoch under the title “A Golden Age of Freedom”. Mr Rupert Murdoch is the chief Executive and chairman of News Cooperation who depicts the current issues of Education and various aspects of media in the changing society. In his six lectures, Mr Murdoch has mainly emphasised on the Australian Perspective comparing it with the global issues of education, rise of middle class and how spread of information through globalisation has brought change in the society. Thus this review will analytically asses Murdoch lectures leading to key ideas which he has presented .Then in this Review, I will also be discussing how these lectures are significant and I would be presenting an argument regarding any gaps or structural problems with the significant examples .In the End, the Review will lead to a conclusion by looking at arguments whether this reading should be listed in next time unit or not.

The Six lectures on “A Golden Age of Freedom” provides the reader with the critical analysis on the Murdoch view on Australia’s Proficiency. In his lectures, Murdoch clearly states that Australia could only overcome the problems of 21st century by adopting new ways of technology and study patterns. The main claim which Murdoch put in his lecture is the Rapid achievement and growth of third world countries such as India and China. Thus in comparing developing countries with a developed country like Australia Murdoch wants to highlight the main reason of success is the hard work and high expectations which has brought developing countries in a competitive context. In his argument Murdoch ,depicts how Australia should improve its literacy standards in the time of transformation .In, the end lecture Content clearly highlights how poor people without any support are rising their standards by studies whereas people of Australia who have all the support from government are still stagnant due to lack of education .

In the review of the above argument I, totally agree with Murdoch because as stated in his lecture, people of Australia are very much dependant on the government subsidiary and financial support .Seeing the scenario in developing countries the people need to work themselves to improve their living standards .So this dependency on the government is making people more lazy and creating gap between them and education. For Example: A person in Australia is aware that if he is not working or educating himself a hope of Centre Link is there to help him. Whereas in developing countries no financial Institution of government is available .Thus it is up to the person to starve and die or receive good education to get a good job.

Murdoch presents a clear argument that he is in strong favour of developing countries .Thus he explain that developed countries growth has been stagnant by stating an example of Europe which has lost the will to confront aggression .He also pointed out reckless nature of aggression of invasion on Georgia by Russia and Terrorist Bombings in Islamabad. During his assessment of Positive and Negative developments in the global world .Murdoch strongly believes that Australia should be part NATO which will enhance its chances to take part in global issues. Taking example of Global economy, Murdoch clearly defines that financial crisis around the world are the greatest challenges to the countries and explain that NATO should involve every country based on common values instead of specific geographical locations.

Another key point which Rupert Murdoch emphasis is migration of skilled immigrants to the country .In his lecture Murdoch praises the Australian immigration for opening doors for the skilled workers and explains how these workers add to the economic and technological prosperity of the country .To this point, I would like to raise a contradiction stating that more immigrants to Australia will definitely lead to a multicultural society. But what will be the future?

According to me, Murdoch fails to analyse the far reaching effects of migrants’ problems which create an imbalance in the domestic labour market .For an Example people coming from developing countries on skilled visa don’t work in the specific skilled field instead of that they do other casual jobs leading to taxi and working in farms .Thus the population of immigrants keeps on increasing whereas the position for skilled work remain stand still because nobody is ready to work .In the end Murdoch should widely think about the negative effects which migrants can bring to the country and how to overcome this problem by controlled migration.

The key flaw in the Murdoch article is the discussion about the human capital and education to the generation. He specially pinpoints Aboriginal generation as its key target to reform by the means of educating and giving them benefits. Considering Educational point of view I totally agree with educational reform because it is education which is going to create skills and develop the young generation .But Contradictory part is why more importance is levied on Aboriginal. I agree that they are the oldest settlers but in the developed world Australia has achieved a status of Multicultural Society where everybody is equal .Thus by giving special preference to Aboriginal people will create a level of difference in the society which can erupt riots or fights in future.

It is clear that Murdoch lecture is inspired by Era of Globalisation and Technological advancement .In his lecture which emphasis stress on how technological change had brought change in society and condition of working class which is specifically middle class in the developing countries. He has beautifully presented an example of his own life experience about how media has changed rapidly from papers to availability on the internet. He explains that technological change is for the betterment and creates new ideas for innovation and expression of freedom. According to Murdoch only way to defeat technology is to get ahead of it .To this I want to say that availability of free trade and global market is a Neo liberal view of Murdoch which gives an upper hand to developing world like India and china.

But in Relation to this I want to say that India and china are able to achieve progress due to growth of privatization of market socialism .Thus Privatisation of market has led to building up a strong relation between government and business which has resulted in the progress of the state.


After reading Murdoch Lectures, it is necessary that it should be listed as a required reading in various universities which teaches government and bussiness relationship .It is necessary because it allows readers to formulate their opinions regarding the lectures based on “A golden age of Freedom”. It makes people aware of the rising technological changes as well as informs them about different prospects of Education and global world. Another reason which, I would like to put forward in relation to these lectures is that these lectures gives a nice opportunity to the reader to form an argument because according to me Murdoch is forming one sided debate .Thus he lacks in Unfolding the alternatives and fails to discuss about the effect globally in accordance to the environment ,that how the new era of freedom changed the environment globally .In the end the lectures are great source to political science as it will help the political thinkers to review Murdoch argument carefully and make future modifications ranging from précising it into more qualitative than quantitative source.

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