What Everyone Is Talking About Today

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NEW YORK ( -- Rupert Murdoch turned 75 over the weekend. He followed that exciting milestone by stopping in London to visit The Worshipful Company of Stationers and Newspaper Makers, a guild formed in 1403 to be the official producers of books and stationery and which has since morphed into a sort of English Rotary Club whose members mostly toil in media. Murdoch, invited to give the group’s Annual Livery Lecture, took the opportunity to declare the age of the media mogul over.
Photo: AP
Rupert Murdoch

The Internet, you see, has made him a dinosaur, doomed to extinction as consumers take control of their media. The scientific revolution that started 300 years ago has led us to this moment. “It is difficult, indeed dangerous, to underestimate the huge changes this revolution will bring or the power of developing technologies to build and to destroy -- not just companies but whole countries. For instance, we probably haven’t heard the name of what will be the world’s largest company in 2020. Indeed that company may not even exist yet -- although I hope that it does and that I know its name!”

But it’s not just the future of media or his business that concerns the chairman of News Corp. in his sunset years. He wants to “forge a better world for all of us.” Media, he believes, can use new technology to help disseminate the ideas that will keep us all free. “Never has the flow of information and ideas, of hard news and reasoned comment, been more important. The force of our democratic beliefs is a key weapon in the war against religious fanaticism and the terrorism it breeds.”

The man behind Fox News, with its fair and balanced mantra, went on to explain how the free flow of information drives not only democracy, but also the technological revolution. News and information is now disseminated in newspapers, magazines, TV, laptops, personal organizers, cellphones and, of course, the Web. “This is how public opinion is shaped. And we know how public opinion can make history.”

But it’s no longer guaranteed that those who control the media control the masses, he said. “Power is moving away from those who own and manage the media to a new and demanding generation of consumers -- consumers who are better educated, unwilling to be led, and who know that in a competitive world they can get what they want, when they want it.”

There is only one way for traditional media to engage this new, ornery audience: “Create and distribute dynamic, exciting content. King Content.” But it must be repurposed to be delivered as e-mail alerts, blogs, podcasts or interactive debates. (Conveniently, News Corp.’s Times of London is offering Murdoch’s speech as a podcast.) “Great content always has been, and I think always will be, king of the media castle,” he said.

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