On many observers’ radar yesterday was the confession by Rupert Murdoch that his print titles are having a hard time in today’s New Media age. As the Guardian reported, Murdoch “says News Corp is not looking to expand its newspaper empire, conceding digital advertising ‘has been tremendously damaging to print’ and some of his papers were struggling”. The Great Man was clearly not happy.
He told investors at News Corp’s AGM in Los Angeles “So far I think we have done pretty well in replacing lost advertising revenue in the major papers, but it continues to be a big problem … I think the big three successes we have are the three big national papers: the Wall Street Journal, the Times in London and the Australian … The other papers, a lot of them are still very viable, but they are struggling”.
So what are the Murdoch mafiosi going to do in order to turn the situation around? Will they be looking to improve their print offer? Might they look to reverse the appallingly low trust ratings that papers like the Sun now suffer in the UK - the title is less trusted than Twitter and Facebook? Will there be moves to reverse all those years of declining circulation, a push to show that print is still a force to be reckoned with?
As if you need to ask: the Murdoch strategy is, as ever, to resort to the dirtiest tricks available to them and their hangers-on, and to put the boot in on any and every new media player in order to drag them down - rather than improving what News Corp and News UK put out there. So it should have been no surprise to see the Murdoch Sun devoting editorials not to kicking the EU, but laying into the hated Web Giants instead.
More specifically, this week’s Sun target has been Facebook, with screaming headlines like “Web giants should be fined huge sums for every damaging post they publish … Facebook has technology advanced enough to censor every nipple, but apparently not to spot political ads bought in roubles”. Er, hello? When did the Sun ever get fined for publishing something damaging? Has Rupe never done business in Russia?
Well, yes he has, hence a recent FBI investigation into those interests and their activities. Still, details, eh? Today the Sun has gone after Facebook yet again, howling “Facebook has lost control if it takes 48 hours to down rape threats and MPs need to regulate the monster the social media giant has become”. Regulation? By MPs? Can anyone remember Leveson? And can they now smell hypocrisy?
The Murdoch goons have even roped in the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog - maybe Rebekah Brooks called them personally with their instructions - to slag off BuzzFeed, whose “long trumpeted IPO looks increasingly unlikely”. The source for the Fawkes massive? You don’t even need to guess - the “news, which emerged overnight” [yeah, right] comes courtesy of the Wall Street Journal.
Still the Murdoch mafiosi fails to get new media. But instead of trying to figure it out, they once again resort to putting the boot in - in the vain hope that they can turn back the digital tide. It would be laughable, were it not so pathetically sad.