Mr. Murdoch Goes to War

What You Should Have Read, June 13, 2008

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Mr. Murdoch Goes to War

The Atlantic provides some weekend reading with Mark Bowden's piece on The Wall Street Journal. Rupert Murdoch wants his Wall Street Journal to displace The New York Times as the world's paper of record. His ambitions could be good news for the newspaper industry— or another nail in the coffin of serious journalism. And how does Murdoch understands journalism? As content, a word he uses all the time, rather than as a form of literature or public service, and as a commodity whose value largely derives from its instant retail malleability. A short, crisp scoop that dramatically advances a major developing story—Obama's poll numbers down! Britney back in rehab! Steinbrenner to fire another manager!—can be neatly packaged for a dizzying variety of media: print, radio, TV, the Internet, or even cell-phone screens. It doesn't matter much to a fully integrated media conglomerate like News Corporation how its customers choose to access this content, as long as the transaction pays. Business and financial news is ideally suited to this kind of cross-seeding, since markets are now global and customers are tuned in all day, every day. One of the first strong messages Journal reporters and editors received from their new owners was that Murdoch wants scoops. He wants his reporters out in front of every competitor on the planet.
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