Rupert Murdoch – Media Mogul
It is not uncommon that those who control a vast variety of media are considered very powerful people. However, it is fairly uncommon for someone such as Rupert Murdoch to command such an influential amount of media outlets and distribution networks. Rupert Murdoch, from his very beginnings in Australia, has exemplified the idea of news media as a business organization and as a money making machine. Murdoch, throughout his life, has obtained holdings in the most far reaching of news networks and entertainment companies, has been in close contact with the world’s most influential and powerful politicians, and has created controversy in several countries such as the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom in reference to his own political beliefs as well as the ones that are broadcast worldwide through News Corporation.
Keith Rupert Murdoch was born on March 11, 1931 in Australia to Elizabeth Murdoch and Keith Murdoch. After studying Philosophy, Politics, and Economics at Oxford University, Murdoch at age 22 promptly returned to Australia to take over his family business following his father’s death. At the time, the company, News Limited, was the operator of a small newspaper in Adelaide, Australia, called the Adelaide News. After successfully running the company Murdoch expanded his influence by purchasing several tabloid style newspapers in Western Australia such as the Sunday Times and the Daily Mirror, as well as acquiring a recording company called Festival Records. These successful ventures allowed Murdoch to expand to the United Kingdom, where Murdoch acquired News of the World as well as the Sun in 1969. Murdoch also began a satellite broadcasting service in 1989 called Sky Television. Though this company was not initially as successful as many of Murdoch’s other ventures, it was eventually merged with its largest competitor, British Satellite Broadcasting. Murdoch obtained United States citizenship in 1985 in order to comply with United States law which prohibits non-citizens from owning television stations, though he had entered the foray of United States media twelve years before when he purchased the San Antonio Express News. Three years later, Murdoch further increased his United States influence by buying the New York Post. After becoming a natural citizen, Murdoch founded the Fox Network in 1985 and the Fox News Network in 1996 which has gained a notorious reputation for conservative talk in its news and opinion programs, but has nonetheless been a massive success. More recently, Murdoch has acquired the Dow Jones Company for five billion dollars, which among other things, is the owner of the Wall Street Journal. (Walker)
Murdoch, as well as having a large stock in entertainment holdings, as well as news holdings, remains an important figure in domestic and international politics, in the United States and abroad. Early in his career, Murdoch wisely found himself powerful political allies in the Australian government. Specifically, Murdoch affiliated himself with John McEwen, the leader of the Australian Country Party and the eighteenth Prime Minister of Australia between the years of 1967 and 1968. Murdoch used his budding Australian media empire to endorse McEwen’s policies, as well as condone McEwen’s positions on all key political issues. This was a very prosperous relationship, as it allowed McEwen to further himself politically, and made Murdoch’s Australian media extremely popular. However, as is a trend in Murdoch’s endorsements, when public opinion began to wane on McEwen, Murdoch dropped his endorsement. (Garden) Murdoch has met and been affiliated with some of the most powerful world leaders, conservative and liberal, in the past thirty years. One of the most prominent is Murdoch’s close relationship in the 1980s with the Thatcher administration in the United Kingdom. One of the Murdoch’s tabloids, The Sun, has credited itself with the task of getting one of Thatcher’s political successors, John Major, elected in 1992. (Douglas) However, Murdoch dropped this relationship with Thatcher’s policies much as he dropped his relationship with John McEwen when he used his media power to endorse Tony Blair in 1997. Murdoch is also known for having private meetings with many influential politicians, such as Tony Blair, and even Barack Obama. These meetings are often explained by Murdoch as “friendly chats”, however, there has been more than one speculation that these meetings have a far more important motivation.
Murdoch has often been a target of criticism in reference to his personal political opinions and how they are reflected in his various media. As his media outlets reach a third of the entire world in some way, his political biases and the ones reflected by News Corporation media carry extremely important implications. Murdoch has never denied that he has a personal bias to conservative political thinking. Many of the politicians his media has endorsed over the past forty years have been undoubtedly right leaning, such as Margret Thatcher and George W. Bush. However, Murdoch has claimed many times that his media reflect popular opinion. Murdoch claims that the reason his media often has a conservative bias is because conservative talk is simply more popular, and not because he himself believes them. Murdoch himself endorsed Barack Obama in the previous presidential election, a known progressive and left leaning candidate, simply because he felt that Obama had a strong chance of winning. This attitude of pragmatism and the news pandering to popular opinion has transformed news media for better or for worse. Some have argued that Murdoch’s tactics have moved news toward an entertainment medium rather than an informational medium. (Ackermen) Others have praised Murdoch’s success in making his own news media incredibly popular. However one may feels about Murdoch’s practices when it comes to informing people, it is difficult to argue with the fact that News Corporation is the owner of many of the most viewed news media in the world.
Keith Rupert Murdoch has become one of the most influential people in the world, simply through his control of a vast array of media outlets. From his beginnings in Australia to his expansion as a worldwide media empire, Murdoch has remained fairly consistent in his successful and sometimes ruthless business and political practices. Murdoch has achieved so much by acquiring a large and diverse amount of media corporations, from Fox to the Wall Street Journal. Murdoch has also increased his influence by forming relationships with some of the most powerful people in the world, who undoubtedly understand Murdoch’s unique power over public opinion. Finally Murdoch has often come under fire for his news media, which often tend to pander to audiences, especially on the political right. However one feels about Rupert Murdoch and his political leanings, it is hard to dispute that Murdoch has transformed the media landscape throughout his life, and long after he is gone he will continue to influence the way media is broadcast and interpreted around the world for decades to come.
Walker, A. (2002). Rupert murdoch: bigger than kane.
Ackermen, S. (2001). Most Biased name in news.
Don Garden, Theodor Fink: A Talent for Ubiquity (Melbourne University Press 1998)
Douglas, T. (2004). Forty years of the sun.
Edgecliffe, A. (2008). Murdoch brokers obama ‘truce’.