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Rupert Murdoch's media empire produces news, but he also has a habit of making it himself. Most recently, he was a headline-creator when he stated he'd be pulling his websites out of Google's index.

Journalism in the 21st century is clearly something that matters a lot to Murdoch, both financially and personally. And in an op-ed piece in his own Wall Street Journal, Murdoch laid out his views on where he sees journalism going, and who needs to stay out of it.

The key points Murdoch makes are:

  • Newspapers prospered through trust.
  • The internet gives newspapers the ability to reach a far greater audience than ever before.
  • Newspapers with declining circulation have editors who are producing news for themselves, not for their readers.
  • Consumers want to access newspaper content on a multitude of devices.
  • Quality content isn't free and ad-supported business models will never work again.
  • Aggregators freeload off the investment and labor of content creators but they will soon have to pay "a fair but modest price" for it.
  • The government should stay out of journalism by reducing regulation and refraining from bailing out failed news institutions.

While he notes that many newspapers and news organizations will not adapt to changing times and therefore inevitably go under, Murdoch thinks "the future of journalism is more promising than ever".

Love him or hate him, there's a lot to like in what Murdoch writes. He wisely recognizes that the economics of running a newspaper have changed forever, and on paid content he understands what a lot of other newspaper execs clearly don't: that consumers won't pay if there's no value. His position on aggregators won't win him any new fans in some tech circles but if he thinks his content is being stolen, who can blame him for defending his interests? And finally, he makes it clear how he feels about government-as-savior for journalism: if you're struggling and want a bailout, it's because your product sucks.

Murdoch ends his op-ed with the following:

Our modern world is faster moving and far more complex than theirs. But the basic truth remains: To make informed decisions, free men and women require honest and reliable news about events affecting their countries and their lives. Whether the newspaper of the future is delivered with electrons or dead trees is ultimately not that important. What is most important is that the news industry remains free, independent—and competitive.

There's very little complaining here, and Murdoch essentially wants to be left alone to do what he does best: make news, and make money. If that's all there is to it, why should anyone stand in his way?

Photo credit: mark00 via Flickr.

Patricio Robles

Published 8 December, 2009 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

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Online Sales Manager

"Quality content isn't free and ad-supported business models will never work again"

It will be interesting to see what business model Murdoch hopes to pursue in order to replace the old ad-supported model. An affiliate sales model perhaps?...where he takes a clip on product sales from ads on his sites. 

almost 7 years ago

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Jonathon

what never gets said is that newspapers have always been third party aggregrators of information themselves: TV listings, stock prices, football scores, classified ads, agency editorial, readers letters. all of that is technically someone else's content that gets aggregrated and distributed through newspapers. maybe the Premier League can use any new rules to prevent the Sun from featuring the football scores?

almost 7 years ago

Dixon Jones

Dixon Jones, Managing Director at Receptional Ltd

 Everyone thought he was going to commit Hari Kari when he tried to start a satellite TV service that needed dishes and digiboxes AND cost users by the month. Yet Sky was born...

It's an interesting battle in the offing at the very least. I have always said I would personally prefer to pay for something decent on the web than have it plastered with ads... but I am not so sure I am part of a large enough group nor whether I'd have the commitment to see that opinion through. At least, not for many of Murdoch's papers...

Actually - my problem with free content is not so much the ads as it is the lack impartiality and the presence of some ulterior motive. Free content isn't "free"... you just don't know who's paying for its creation or why. I suspect I am not alone there, but here Murdoch's empire shoots itself in the foot. He says that papers are built on trust. That's true. But in the last decade, newspapers have been weigh too heavy on "opinion" and far too light on "facts".

If you want to go paid, Murdoch, kill the opinion. Just the facts man!

almost 7 years ago

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Tom Whitwell

Jonathon: newspapers pay for all that content that they aggregate - the stock prices, the TV listings etc.

almost 7 years ago

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norris hall

If Rupert Murdoch was in the News business, I might be concerned and consider paying to read his news.

But Murdoch is in the NEWS CREATING business. His pro conservative, pro israel, anti enviroment bias , pro war, anti union views come out in the stories published by his news creatiing empire.

So if Fox news , the wall street journal and all his other conservative publications go "pay only"....who suffers.  CONSERVATIVES.

Now They will have to pay to hear his views. Less money in their pockets.  More money for Rupert.  Capitalism is working

Meanwhile, the rest of us won't have to be subjected to his misleading "headlines" .

I agree with him.  He needs to take his marbles and play somewhere else so that the rest of us can get some unbiased NEWS without having to wonder if we are reading Rupert's opinions or NEWS

over 6 years ago

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norris hall

"To make informed decisions, free men and women require honest and reliable news about events affecting their countries and their lives. Whether the newspaper of the future is delivered with electrons or dead trees is ultimately not that important. What is most important is that the news industry remains free, independent—and competitive."

Rupert Murdoch should read his own writing. Read his life story on Wikipedia.  He constantly uses his tabloids to skew readers against his opponents or to push his personal conservative views in the guise of NEWS

over 6 years ago

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