Owning the Media

On the flight back from Lisbon, I listened closely to another excellent On Point program. This one focused on media mogul Rupert Murdoch, his bid to buy the Wall Street Journal, and more importantly: his power to influence his media.

Years ago while writing my MA thesis, I remember collecting Murdoch quotes about his opinion on influencing his newspapers. My least favorite was something to the effect of: He wants to take a sledge hammer and destroy the wall between the marketing department and the news room. That in itself told the whole story of what kind of person this is and how much he values a free and independent press.

During the On Point program you hear from journalists who say they won’t tolerate him taking over the paper. Both because of the times where he has been hands on, and because of the type of media he also owns such as Fox News, The Daily Standard and other tabloid /info-tainment/ conservative newspapers. (myspace!) You also hear of examples where he doesn’t get involved or interfere in the work of media professionals at his own companies. The contrasting habits of a man that owns such a huge chunk of the global media.

Which ever style of owner he behaves as once he takes over the Journal, this is still another nail in the coffin of mainstream press. Because business is business and somewhere somehow it was decided that media was just another business and therefore can be bought and sold and picked apart or bullied by its owners and shareholders. On the one hand, another sad day for journalism, on the other hand, yet another reason why the work of independent and alternative journalists, especially on the internet, is VITAL.