From Australia to the World – Rupert Murdoch: The Future of Newspapers in the Age of the Internet

mAustralia is simply not big enough for Rupert Murdoch, though the country did give him his first break into publishing and broadcasting: Two Adelaide city newspapers and a small town radio station in the outback. From these rather humble beginnings, Keith Rupert Murdoch conquered the world – or at least a significant part of its media.

Born in Australia to parents of English, Irish and Scottish ancestry, KR Murdoch was destined for the newspaper world. His father, a former foreign correspondent and publisher of the Adelaide News, taught young Keith Rupert the tricks of the trade. Returning home after studies in England, the young Murdoch promptly turned his attention to the family business. At the Adelaide News, he vastly increased sports and society coverage, brazenly splashing scandals onto the front page and seeing both circulation and profitably soar almost instantly.

Emboldened by his early and easy success, Rupert Murdoch sought out troubled newspapers elsewhere in Australia to add to his nascent media empire. Each paper underwent the same set of changes that had proved such a success at the Adelaide News. Soon, Australia became too small a market and Rupert Murdoch descended upon New Zealand where he promptly repeated his performance.

In 1968, Mr Murdoch arrived in the UK, buying the News of the World and, barely a year later, The Sun which he moved from broadsheet to tabloid format injecting scarcely clad ladies in the process and a dose of jingoism for good measure. From a struggling newspaper, The Sun was swiftly transformed into a giant attracting over 10 million readers by 1997.

Murdoch’s media empire News Corp today comprises a vast collection of newspapers, publishing houses and marketing agencies active on three continents. News Corp’s flagship is Dow Jones & Company, owners of the Wall Street Journal and the financial wire service. Through its UK subsidiary, News Corp owns The Times, The Sunday Times and The Sun newspapers.

Said to have single-handedly invented and popularised the tabloid newspaper format, Rupert Murdoch makes no apologies for the editorial style he imposes on his publications. Though he has kept The Times largely true to its heritage and refrained from introducing extensive sports coverage in the Wall Street Journal, Mr Murdoch does not win any prizes for style. Still, it is a major accomplishment to successfully run a daily newspaper in the days of instant news delivered wirelessly to a plethora of high-tech devices.
Rupert Murdoch not just survived the onslaught brought about by the Internet; he actually thrived by appealing to a fairly low common denominator staying true to the advice dispensed by American satirist, editor and essayist HL Mencken: “Nobody ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American public.” Rupert Murdoch applied these words worldwide and proved Mencken right by doing so.

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