Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation is just like the Jesuits, he told a mostly-full Gaston Hall yesterday, “except we don’t insist on vows of poverty or chastity.”
The Australian-born Chairman and Managing Director of News Corporation, which owns MySpace, Fox and other media organizations, described the dilemma faced by newspapers and older media outlets in adapting to new technology, especially the Internet.
“You can never be sure where this industry will go,” Murdoch said, “because new technology destroys the old ways of business.”
Murdoch, whose company acquired The Wall Street Journal in August 2007, defended the role of newspapers. Although he admitted that print publications are hemorrhaging profits and audiences, Murdoch described the Journal as “the daily of the American dream,” adding that, as local papers are forced to make more cutbacks due to loss of revenue, national papers like the Journal will play an increasingly prominent role.
“The Wall Street Journal is unique; it’s a national paper read by affluent and influential people,” he said, predicting that the Journal’s reader base will likely read the newspaper for content they wouldn’t be able to find elsewhere.
During the question and answer session, Murdoch touched upon more controversial aspects of his media empire, most notably the alleged bias of the Fox News Channel and his own reputation as a far-right conservative activist.
While admitting that maintaining neutrality is difficult, Murdoch dismissed allegations that he influences the editorial stances of many News Corp outlets. “My personal views don’t affect the editorial pages,” he said, citing his publications’ endorsements of Tony Blair and the new left-wing government of Australia.
“We’ve always been a catalyst for change, so we inspire fear,” Murdoch said in reference to his critics.
In response to concerns about News Corp’s consolidated media ownership, Murdoch repeatedly defended his business tactics, indicating that News Corp facilitates a broader range of voices to be heard.
“Everything we’ve done has been to create competition,” Murdoch said. “We think it’s a public service.”