Sunday, April 11, 2010

Rupert Murdoch Thinks Social Media is an "Interesting Phenomenon"

This past Tuesday at the National Press Club, The Kalb Report in its final episode of the season had Rupert Murdoch for a discussion on the future of media and journalism. In front of a fully packed room, Mr. Murdoch presented himself as a brilliant businessman. Marvin Kalb, who loves being referred to as the last journalist hired personally by Edward R. Murrow, is a beacon of traditional journalism. Apparently nothing makes him happier than the "physical and tactile act of reading a newspaper." This set the stage for a conversation between the world's most powerful media mogul and an old school journalist.

Rupert Murdoch is brilliant. He treats journalism as business, like the dozens of media platforms he runs. This was not so well received by Marvin Kalb. There were a few main topics covered, including the one I was most excited about content. In response to the question, "What is Content?" his original answer was:
"It's the words."
That seemed to quite confuse Mr. Kalb. The question seemed to take them off topic for a while and each interpreted differently. Mr. Kalb seemed only to understand content in a journalistic context. This was in direct contrast to Mr. Murdoch who runs dozens of news and media enterprises. "Anything we put out. That's what we produce. It is all about the words and pictures." Mr. Murdoch continued. He compared it to his latest and largest movie success, Avatar. He considers the words in his Wall St. Journal and Avatar the exact same content. I'm not sure that made sense to Marvin Kalb. These were two very different perspectives. Mr. Kalb does not seem to care about the business of journalism and Mr. Murdoch, owner of FOX News, is much better at hiding that he does.

There were many topics of conversation including Mr. Murdoch has 2 computer screens at his desk, one of which has on it permanently. Additionally, after not being able to name on FOX democratic reporter he did claim "We have both sides. We're not republicans." While I don't think he thinks this is true, more importantly he doesn't seem to care. What I took away from this incredibly interesting evening, whether or not they're democrats or republicans, with his ratings and ad sales, he doesn't care.

P.S: During the question and answer session, which was started off by an incredibly obnoxious statement mumbled by a poorly dressed staff member of Media Matters, Mr. Murdoch did refer to social media and use generated content as an "interesting phenomenon." Apparently interesting enough for him to buy MySpace for $580 million.

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