We’re here in Georgetown University’s Gaston Hall, listening to News Corp.’s Rupert Murdoch.
1:32 PM: Lovely. Press is stuffed way in the back.
1:33 PM: Naturally, Jack Shafer’s here. We’re hoping for some good heckling.
1:34 PM: Frank Ahrens, too.
1:37 PM: Our faith in youth is restored. A Georgetown student recalled that “Rupert” is also a character in this classic.
1:38 PM: Fox News cameraman overheard saying “Yeah, Ailes is making us cover this crap.”
1:44 PM: Murdoch’s on stage. Homeboy has to be dying his hair. Then again, given our sweet ass press seats in the way back of the room, we could be totally mistaken.
1:45 PM: George G. Daly, Dean of the Robert Emmett McDonough School of Business, introduces Murdoch and calls him “the preeminent media executive of this era” and “a quite remarkable man.”
1:50 PM: Murdoch discusses the similarities between Jesuits and News Corp:
Both attract highly talented people from all over the globe. Both like to challenge the status quo. Both have the reputation for independence and innovation. The difference? “We don’t insist on public vows of chastity.”
1:51 PM: “If Fox News is all you know about our company, you don’t know about our company. And if you don’t know about our company than you’re missing a big piece about how news and television are changing in the 21st century.”
1:52 PM: “We have one certainty: we can never be sure where the industry will end up. … Technology is going to destroy all the old ways and old assumptions of doing business, most especially in the media.”
1:53 PM: “They think that technology is ruining their business because it’s making their job harder,” says Murdoch, but says that technology allows for greater access to media products by consumers.
1:55 PM: “Google is a fantastic company and they are on the cutting edge of technology. Mostly they are writing code for hte Internet to allow people to make betetr use of it. And Google is very good at that.”
1:56: “You are all looking for the same thing: Good content. Good content is inherently creative.”
1:57: “No one entertains, informs or innovates quite like we do. … If there is an audience for news, we want to feed it.”
1:59: Listing successes: American Idol, Super Bowl, Carrie Underwood, Horton Hears A Who, WSJ, Dangerous of Book of Boys, Night at the Museum, etc., etc.
1:58: Talks of global warming….”We are committed for selfish reasons. We want our business to be around for the next 100 or 200 years.” Says News Corp. will be carbon neutral by 2010.
2:01: “As a day to day reality, television can no longer rely on a mass audience. … There is no magic bullet, no one size fits all solution. To stay ahead of the competiton, a media company needs to diversify geographically so it can reach more people. It needs to diversity by platform, which is one reason we bought MySpace and it needs to be constantly nuturing a new generation of businesses and business models to take place of the old.”
2:09: The Wall Street Journal was not only a very unique newspaper … but was a national newspaper that sells … to the most affluent and influential people in the country.”
2:10: Newspapers are the “greatest training ground possible for young people in media.”
2:11: Newsday…”I don’t know if we’ll get it, somebody else might get it.”
2:12: On Facebook/MySpace…”There’s no doubt that a lot of people like Facebook and that it’s very good.”
2:14: “Early on it was very young people going to MySpace. Today the average age of someone joining is 30. … We have more page views … then the whole of Yahoo put together or any other service. … We take Facebook seriously…. It’s not a head on fight. I think a lot of people are on both. … As for monetizing social sites, Facebook has an even bigger problem.”
2:18: “Google has so captured the imagination of the public throughout the world…Google seems to have a momentum to it that Yahoo is having great difficulty turning back.”
2:21: “It’s very hard to be neutral. People laugh at us because we call ourselves ‘Fair and Balanced.’ Fact is, CNN, who’s always been extremely liberal, never had a Republican or conservative voice on it. The only difference is that we have equal voices on both sides but that seems to have upset a lot of liberals. … The more voices the better.”
2:22: Student Doug Goff — asking a question from the aisle — clearly already has political ambitions. “Thank you for coming, Mr. Murdoch. We really appreciate it.”
2:23: “My personal views are there. They don’t affect the newspapers and I stand by that.”
2:24: On Obama: “We still think he’s one of the most interesting people to emerge.”
2:26: “I better be careful. I always get in trouble when I speak about China, especially in front of my Chinese wife.”
“Things change from time to time and I believe that things are going to change and open up in China just by the force of things.”
“There is a real wealthy middle class appearing and those people .. .they’re going to start to want a little more say in their country and then I think you’ll find in ensuing regimes … I don’t know when .. .it’s going to gradually open up and be a lot freer.”
“Wherever we go, any country, local programming, local news is always the most popular. But there will be opportunities arising in China over the next twenty years for worldwide companies, whether they be European or American or whenever, to invest and take part in, as there will be opportunities for Chinese companies to invest in this country.”
2:35: Tom Ridge is here.
2:36: Questioner: “As a citizen, I’m scared. The free press used to be the corps of democracy. Please convince me that the world media consolidation in one hand is not a threat to democracy.”
Murdoch: Says “absolutely” that would be the case, but “we are a tiny fraction of the media landscape. There are millions of voices out there and we certainly don’t have any of that sort of monopolistic view. Everything we’ve done in my opinion is to create competition. We’ve started up against other people everywhere. All of our activities are competing with other people and we think that’s a public servcice. We want to give people choices. The more choice there is, the better it is. …[To think the media world is concentrating] is ignoring the facts. It is being fragmented in a milion ways. And I think that’s good. It doesn’t suit my business but… [Laughter]
2:39: The end.