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Murdoch to use WSJ to split newspaper market into left-right, just as he did with Fox on cable 7/31/07

Posted by Steve Boriss in Murdoch, Wall Street Journal.

Remember back in the 1990’s when CNN owned cable TV news, and was the undisputed, sole provider of objective, around-the-clock, in-depth, authoritative coverage? No one would have thought there would even be an opening for a #2 channel, much less one that could challenge CNN head-on. But, Rupert Murdoch realized that Rush Limbaugh and talk radio had generated an audience of dissatisfied listeners who were convinced that CNN had a liberal slant. So, using those listeners as a beachhead, he launched Fox, then broadened the audience beyond the conservative base by promoting “fair and balanced” coverage, hiring a stable of strong, charismatic, diverse, and stunningly attractive talent, and weaving-in the sensational stories that Old Media refused to touch. Now cable news is bi-polar, with Fox on the right and the smaller CNN on the left.

Now, fast-forward to 2007 when two newspapers, the NY Times and Washington Post, working as a close-knit team that even swaps front pages each night before publication, are the undisputed authoritative leaders in newspapers and the creators of the “national conversation.” Almost no one thinks that anyone could take them on. This time, Murdoch can draw from talk radio and Fox News audiences that are dissatisfied, convinced that these papers have a liberal slant. Also this time, he owns the WSJ, a going concern with a respected brand name, and a base of conservative readers. Within 5 years, national newspapers will be bi-polar, with the WSJ on the right and the smaller NY Times and Washington Post on the left. Just watch, as history — and Rupert Murdoch — repeat themselves.


1. Benjamin Melançon - 8/2/07

Except that CNN, NY Times, and Washington Post aren’t really left in any way that matters, certainly not on matters of economic justice that could bother the 2% of people like Rupert Murdoch who claim to own half the planet.

People certainly want news and information that has an opinion, and right-wing propaganda answers that desire (with a heavy dose of supporting the government, a Murdoch signature move from Australia to China, but that’s why he gets around ownership rules, not why people read the stuff).

There’s room for an authentically left voice in newspapers that would revive circulation – check out Por Esto – http://www.poresto.net/ – for an example from our neighbor to the South, but there’s a wealth and advertiser, if not government involvement, that makes this difficult.

2. Steve Boriss - 8/2/07

Benjamin, My personal opinion is that ultimately we will have a clean left-right split (actually many variations along the spectrum). If CNN, the NY Times, and Washington Post are not “really left in any way that matters,” it is either because it does not yet make business sense for them to do so or they are clinging onto the soon-to-be-obsolete idea that it is possible to be objective. The future of news will be a multitude of voices competing in a freewheeling marketplace of ideas.

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