Blogs’ latest champion: Rupert Murdoch

    April 14, 2005

When you think of champions for blogs, you think Dan Gillmor, Doc Searls, Mark Cuban. But Rupert Murdoch? …

Murdoch is portrayed as a traditionalist, an arch-conservative, a tyrant. Yet in a speech last night to the American Society of Newspaper Editors, he sang blogs’ praises and exhorted his audience to stop whining about them and get on board.

According to a report in the UK’s Times Online Murdoch said,

“The digital native doesn’t send a letter to the editor any more. She goes online and starts a blog. We need to be the destination for those bloggers. At the same time, we may want to experiment with the concept of using bloggers to supplement our daily coverage of news on the net.”

Newsday’s coverage of the speech also points out that Murdoch plans to overhaul his own properties to attract younger audiences. “The challenge for us is … to create an Internet presence that is compelling enough for users to make us their homepage,” Murdoch said.

“(Young people) don’t want to rely on a God-like figure from above to tell them what’s important. And to cary the religion analogy a bit further, they certainly don’t want news presented as gospel.

“Instead, they want their news on demand, when it works for them. They want control over their media, instead of being controlled by it. They want to question, to probe, to offer a different angle.

“Think about how blogs and message boards revealed that Kryptonite bicycle locks were vulnerable to a Bic pen. Or the Swiftboat incident. Or the swift departure of Dan Rather from CBS. One commentator, Jeff Jarvis, puts it this way: give the people control of media, they will use it. Don’t give people control of media, and you will lose them.”

Murdoch spoke on other ways the newspaper business is missing the online boat. The entire article’s an eye-opener, including the bit where Murdoch admits his own mistake in not moving fast enough to embrace the Net.

Corante also has coverage.

Shel Holtz is principal of Holtz Communication + Technology which focuses on helping organizations apply online communication capabilities to their strategic organizational communications.

As a professional communicator, Shel also writes the blog a shel of my former self.