OLD Media Moves

Murdoch on the phone with his editors

June 25, 2007

Posted by Chris Roush

Ken Auletta of The New Yorker has a long profile Monday of News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch and a behind-the-scenes look at his negotiations to purchase Dow Jones & Co., the parent of The Wall Street Journal.

Most telling was Auletta recounting what it was like to be in Murdoch’s office in 1995. He wrote, “In 1995, I spent several months reporting for a Profile of Murdoch for The New Yorker. During ten days in his offices, I attended meetings, witnessed negotiations, listened to his phone calls, and conducted about twenty hours of taped interviews with him. At least a couple of times each day, he talked on the phone with an editor in order to suggest a story based on something that he’d heard. This prompted me to ask, ‘Of all the things in your business empire, what gives you the most pleasure?’

“‘Being involved with the editor of a paper in a day-to-day campaign,’ he answered instantly. ‘Trying to influence people.’

“I portrayed Murdoch then as a visionary who could make a large company move with the speed of a small one. I also saw him as a modern pirate, a press lord in the tradition of men like James Gordon Bennett, who created the New York Herald in 1835 and also became an adviser to politicians; or William Randolph Hearst, Henry Luce, and Lord Beaverbrook, who used their properties to try to influence events throughout the last century. Murdoch’s power and influence, though, reach far beyond one nation. Murdoch was unhappy with the article, and although he is unfailingly polite in person, he has since declined to sit for an interview with me.”

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