Weekend Reading: Rupert Murdoch In His Own Words


Esquire condenses three hours of talk time with News Corp (NYSE: NWS) chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch into one long anniversary-issue oral history of sorts >oral history of sorts. (Sorry, no battery-operated flashing lights here.) Some excerpts:

On MySpace, Facebook and the internet: “We got a big wake-up call from Facebook last year. We put a lot of new things in this year. You can’t write off MySpace. It is a genuine social network where people go to look for friends, to make friends, to look for people with common interests. Facebook — I don’t want to put it down. It does interesting things and has some very able people there, but it is fundamentally a sort of directory. It’s opened up recently to let people bring in new applications. A huge number have tried to do this, but not that many have succeeded. People spend a lot more time on MySpace than they do on Facebook. Every survey agrees on that. Facebook, they tend to go in to contact friends, to look up who they are going to be in college with, to find old friends, or whatever. On MySpace, people go to look for new friends.”

On WSJ vs NYT: “It sounds old-fashioned talking about newspapers, but The Wall Street Journal is a unique opportunity. I think there’s an audience for a really good national and international paper. If you can make it really strong in national and international news, and keep it at a very high intelligence level, you’re going to get the most affluent and influential audience in America — two million or so discriminating readers. And that’s very valuable. Don’t get me wrong — I don’t think for a minute that we’re going to put The New York Times (NYSE: NYT) out of business. I think they have a future, too. But I think there’s certainly room for an alternative, a strong alternative.

— “You have to have a brand that is totally trusted. Now, there are a huge number of people in this country who don’t trust The New York Times. There are a huge number that trust The Wall Street Journal and have, in varying degrees, loyalties to their local newspapers. They enjoy them, or they find that it’s useful information. They go on the Web and use it. That’s the job of a newspaper, to be able to keep people, to stay with them, and to make them satisfied with what they get from one place as much as possible. That’s the challenge.

On personal politics: “I’m not a knee-jerk conservative. I passionately believe in free markets and less government, but not to the point of being a libertarian. After this financial crisis, there are going to be some restrictions. I’m frightened they’ll go too far, but certainly there should be something.”

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