It will come as news to few that MySpace is the social media phenomenon

du jour

. Picked up by News Corp for $580m, 90m members, and that oh-so juicy teen demographic to market to when no-one under 30 is buying newspapers anymore? Strewth, Rupert Murdoch’s got a fair dinkum bet there.

So you may be perplexed by this suggestion Rupert should spin MySpace off on its own, from MarketWatch’s wonderfully named Bambi Francisco:

“Clearly, MySpace — if it were a standalone company — would be the hottest kind of stock, one that every sell-side analyst would gladly hawk. It’s very likely the thought has crossed the minds of executives as well as MySpace founders. Prior to the sale to News Corp., MySpace founders had considered an IPO, according to someone close to the company.”

The current rash of MySpace headlines may seem like something the brand can capitalise on, but the site is getting those rave reviews in the first place entirely because of its genuine potential in its current state.

The fact is, News Corp needs MySpace, and it needs it in-house, sitting there right alongside its newspapers. Murdoch may now be playing catch-up after being notoriously reticent to join the web party first time ’round. But he’s not talking quick-fix spikes on Wall Street here – the media mogul has pronounced the salvation of nothing less than the future of his entire media empire on tight integration with the social-networking generation.

With the print classifieds ads sector in decline thanks to that pesky ability of online marketing to target ads to consumers like a dead-cert marksman, the personal profiles served up by MySpace users are juicy indeed. Not to mention the entertainment companies and ad agencies that must be salivating to advertise on MySpace about now.

Besides, News Corp’s fortunes have looked pretty healthy in the year since it acquired MySpace owner Intermix.

No, MySpace’s success is vital in limiting the slide of Rupe’s existing old-media properties; independence is surely not on the horizon.