A friend with a history in the British newspaper business writes:
I’m fascinated by some of the comments on Murdoch in the papers and from the WSJ newsroom — right-wing ideologue, terrible for papers etc etc.
He’s a newspaper man! He’s got ink under his fingernails! Ask any of his editors: he loves papers. That may not be why he’s buying the Journal, but it’s just daft to think that he doesn’t care about papers, understand what makes them tick, back them etc etc. True, he doesn’t think much of some of the more turgid expressions of US daily journalism — thinks them indulgent, slow, and out of touch with their readers — but he owns the best paper in Australia and two of the best in the UK, he’s propped up the Post for years when it didn’t make a dime, and he can lay out a front page in his sleep. What’s not to like?
Update: Very clever of me to quote “a friend” (or “former soccer teammate“) to make a controversial point while taking no stand of my own, eh? (And no, I’m not Canadian; I just think that’s a cool way to end a sentence.) So I guess I should fess up that I too believe that, unlike a lot of the people running
newspaper media companies these days, Murdoch is a creator, not a destroyer. He starts new newspapers (The Australian), magazines (The Weekly Standard), and TV channels (Fox News), he doesn’t shut them down. So from the purely selfish perspective of a journalist looking to make a living, that’s a positive. As for Fox News, Murdoch and Roger Ailes identified a market niche (cranky old people) that wasn’t being served by existing TV news, and pounced on it. Is that such a crime? Murdoch is the sworn enemy of the centrist, self-important ethos of the American mainstream media–just like much of the blogosphere. The only problem is that the news pages of the Journal are probably the greatest expression of what’s good about that ethos.