The Narrow-mindedness of Rupert Murdoch and his “declining empire.”

Last week Rupert Murdoch did an interview with David Sheers of Sky News and succeeded once again in showing his ignorance when it comes to dealing with the ever changing world of journalism. Murdoch calls internet search engines such as Google “content kleptomaniacs and plagiarists.“ He then states his intent to start charging users to pay for all of his new websites and to have websites owned by his corporation blocked from Google and other search engine searches.
I personally have never been able to even begin to fathom the logic in this thinking. It seems like such a stretch to blame Google that Murdoch is looking for anyone to blame for the shortcomings of his websites. Murdoch’s argument is that Google steals his the stories from his websites by directing users to them while reaping the advertising benefits of those users. Murdoch is right about only one thing. Google does benefit from his websites (and about every other website on the internet), but Murdoch stupidly assumes that if Google is benefiting from his content, then it must be stealing money away from him. The truth is Google provides him with a win, win situation. Sure they benefit from the his content because without it they would have no to direct users to, but the entire purpose for Google is direct users to someone else. Google helps Murdoch’s websites by funneling tons of users to his websites; something which he will hopefully see once he loses that benefit. A user who finds Murdoch’s websites when looking for a specific news topic on Google is someone who wouldn’t normally go to his website, and someone who may very well return if they are impressed with the quality of that site.
Murdoch, however, states that these types of people aren’t the kinds he want his websites to attract. He says that he would rather have fewer people coming to he websites who are willing to pay. This may be an okay thought if every news website agreed to start charging users, but as long as there is free access to quality news online the money Murdoch gets from users willing to seek his websites out so they can pay for them will likely never match the losses from advertising.
Beyond this, though he doesn’t directly say it, Murdoch’s opinion of people who use Google to find news seems to be very low. Murdoch says about people who find news this way “Who knows who they are or where they are. They don’t suddenly become loyal readers of our content.” Beyond the fact that it doesn’t really matter who they are or where they are as long as they are bringing ad money in to the site, if Murdoch’s journalists do their job and use good writing and reporting these random Google searchers may very well become loyal readers. I know I’ve found several news websites (sports in particular) randomly through Google or a similar search engine that impressed me and I now go to every day.
Murdoch’s attitude represents so many things that is wrong with looking at journalism. He constantly shows displays a lack of any creativity in stubbornly fighting technology rather than trying to work with it. Sheers mentioned the opinion voiced by many that Murdoch’s move to block his websites from Google signals the decline of his empire. Though Murdoch argued that opinion I completely agree with it, as long as Murdoch continues to fight technology.
The interview was 37 minutes long and discuses other issues including the White House’s recent attacks on Fox News. It’s very interesting and I’d recommend watching it.

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