rupert murdoch

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CBS. FOX and Yahoo!

CBS is a content company. Most think of it as a TV channel…with a bit of an integration problem across the country.  Different call letters, different channel numbers, not where it’s supposed to be on the dial when you move from city to city.  (See? Platform integration has always been around, it’s not just an issue for the TechCrunch crowd.)  CBS has always been dinged for catering to the older market. Well, in today’s media world the older market watches TV. Lots of it. And CBS’s quarterly numbers are quite strong, especially for local sales.   CBS owns C|Net and ZDNet, which along with other web properties, is helping the company diversify and learn about new targets, markets and categories.  CBS has radio, outdoor, book publishing, and other web properties in addition to cable and broadcast, which positions it nicely as all media moves towards the middle.  At its very core, CBS is a content play.

And in a new media world where everyone’s a publisher therefore no one’s a publish, CBS continues to crank out content people want to watch, hear, and read.  This content strategy is also the strategy of AOL and Yahoo!.  Oddly, they are all competitors.  I know AOL and Time Warner didn’t make it, but that was then.  WABC (Disney) and WNBC (Comcast) have too much baggage.  Fox has the stomach for it (read MySpace), so I predict Yahoo!, or less likely AOL, will be purchased by Mr. Murdoch and FOX.  This would be the year to do it, too.   Peace!

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I am so disappointed in Newsday’s redesigned website I could yak. It looks like they took the old site, put it into a cocktail shaker, added blue dye and poured it into a smaller glass.

 

Earlier this year Newsday went on record as saying it was going to charge users for its website content. A bold, smart and edgy move. In order to charge, though, it needed to create a site that offered readers and users real value. Because Newsday is owned by Cablevision, it actually has the resources to put together a paid for service of unparalleled proportion. Instead, it acted like a newspaper. Cablevision sells Long Islander more forms of media and entertainment than I can even list here. With a little cross-silo vision it could have reinvented Newsday.com, creating a revenue stream that would dwarf the paper paper.

 

Not this year. I guess they’ll wait for Rupert Murdoch to do it first. Or, one of his kids. Peace!

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What’s wrong with the newspaper business is the “paper” not the “news.”  And paper is also a metaphor for the old centralized news, ink and engine business that hasn’t really changed for hundreds of year.

 

I posted yesterday about how Rupert Murdoch and News Corp are best positioned to transform the newspaper business.  No one else has amassed the resources and other media expertise to translate the news “paper” business into the news “digital” business. Microblogger sites such as Twitter have shown us a glimpse of the future, in terms of real-time reporting, but we all know that the best news and analysis come from professionals — with editors and fact checking as part of the equation. All of which in the digital age should be easier, not harder.

 

News gathering and reporting are a special competence of news organizations; printing and distributing are not. The former must be brought up to date.  

 

Today it was reported that Rupert Murdoch’s #2 executive, Peter Chernin, is leaving. Allowing him to go is a huge mistake. Mr. Chernin is the entertainment, social media, non-newspaper guy on the team. My timeframe for News Corp’s delivery of newspapers 2.0 was 2 years.  Jeff Dachis — a transformative executive himself – is on record as saying 2 years is too soon.  Now I wonder if it can be done in 4 years. Or at all…by News Corp. 

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If anyone is in position to renew and reinvent the newspaper business it is Rupert Murdoch. First and foremost he is a talented businessman. Second he is willing to spend to learn. Check that, invest and lose to learn. Third he is daring. For a septuagenarian to jump in and buy MySpace with nary a friend request was a bold move to say the least.

 

I applauded Mr. Murdoch for buying the Wall Street Journal because I expected him to take his understanding of the financial news business and marry it with the community building expertise he purchased in MySpace. Then, I thought, he’d build an online business property the likes of which we’d never seen — think LinkedIn meets Facebook meets the Allen and Company Retreat.  (Well, I may have over-thought that one. Hee hee.)

 

But Mr. Murdoch understands news, the human condition and what people want in entertainment (Fox).   Within 2 years I expect him to make a big online move that will cross all these platforms. It will be news-based, globally branded, locally relevant, and will make reporters out of all of us. It will be huge. Peace!

 

PS. Are you listening Jeff Dachis?

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Okay, okay I think I’m becoming a Rupert Murdoch fan. I wouldn’t want him as my CEO in a new internet start-up, but I like how he is going about learning what’s next. I’ve dinged him for what he’s doing to the Wall Street Journal, but must give him credit for putting money into a lot of different new media properties in an effort to learn. It is the wild west don’t forget.
 
Mr. Murdoch has shown some restraint when it comes to DRM (digital rights management) and he believes in the newspaper business, so long as the writing is great and germane. His take on MySpace vs. Facebook is also interesting. He feels MySpace is for those who want to express themselves and Facebook is a utility. Nice boil down. It also makes me feel good about our online property, Zude, which is poised to be the best of all individual expression platforms. After shelter, sustenance and procreation, personal expression is the most important human need. The online world is a  brand new canvas for personal expression and Mr. Murdoch sees that. 

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Newsday, Long Island’s daily newspaper, earned $80 million dollars (before taxes, etc) last year. The Tribune Company is selling the property and Mort Zuckerman and front- runner Rupert Murdoch are its pursuers. Mr. Murdoch has reportedly offered $580 million for Newsday and it’s a very good value. 
 
The paper, you see, has monopoly status on Long Island, home to some of the highest wage earners in the country. At one time Newsday was the 6th leading daily newspaper in the U.S. but it never really delivered on its full potential. With some proper handling and if it expunges its NYC envy, the paper has amazing upside.
 
Long Island is a unique place. Many unique places, if fact, and writers who love and live here if given a targeted mission are likely to double the circulation of the paper in no time. And let’s not even get into the web side of Newsday’s future. With smart care and feeding of Newsday.com, it could dwarf the paper in 10 years.
 
I hope Mr. Zuckerman wins the battle. The future will look rosier for Newsday if he does.   
 

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 Rupert Murdoch is at loggerheads with The Wall Street Journal’s top editor Marcus W. Brauchli, and it looks like Murdoch is going to win.  They are at odds over the direction of the paper.  Mr. Murdch wants to compete with the New York Times and increase coverage of general news and politics.  Mr. Brauchli and the Bancroft Family, the Journal’s previous owners, wish to see the paper stick to its financial roots.  As do I.
 
If you take Wall Street out of the Journal you have a newspaper without a conscience.   Wall Street is like no other street in the world.  It and the financial industry need its own newspaper. Money is important. And ever shall be in America. Mr. Murdoch, it’s okay to make little satisfying changes, but this overhaul needs to stop. And, please leave the “Marketplace” section alone. It’s quite good.
 

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A Senior Moment?

Rupert Murdoch seems to be having a senior moment. One day he’s meeting with Jerry Yang in an effort to align News Corp with Yahoo and Google, the next he’s talking about working with Microsoft to take over Yahoo. Either way it sounds as if he’s trying to get someone who knows the space to handle his Fox Interactive Media, owner of MySpace. 

 

I’m getting the impression Mr. Murdoch is more interested in “the deal” than the “vision.” Frankly, he knows how Microsoft makes money, so I’m betting that the Microsoft play is where he’s likely to land – if he does land. And that’s debatable given some of these tactics. Maybe his recent dinner with Jerry Yang was strictly intell gathering. If it was, I bet Roy Bostock was not at the table.

 

PS. I wrote some time ago that Mr. Murdoch’s purchase of The Wall Street Journal, would lead to creation of the world’s biggest business social net. That would have been vision. 

PPS. For a fun look at a Visual Guide to the Yahoo Mating Dance, click on the Dan Farber link: http://www.zude.com/index.htm?pg=MAIN&btnbar=3&pgid=62208041108532417674

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I’m a brand guy. I like to know what a brand stands for and what its mission is. If people on the inside know what a brand stands for, presumably people on the outside will too. The Wall Street Journal has always stood for financial reporting and analysis. Rupert Murdoch, as it was reported in the New York Times this morning, 
 
has been pondering upping the content on hard-hitting news and political reporting in the Wall Street Journal when the News Corp ownership becomes formal. Indeed, he is considering the removal of the Marketplace section of the paper next year.   Marketing is a component of financial news — certainly a driver of it, in many cases — so that section of the paper is on message and on brand. Replacing it with something more general, in my mind is a mistake. Competing with the New York Times and other more generalist media properties will water down the WSJ mission, also a mistake. Mr. Murdoch’s new plans might make the “Journal” (yes, there have even been discussions about removing “Wall Street” from the title ) more profitable near-term, but it is not be a good long-term solution. 
 
Should they to move this route, in will step The Financial Times to fillthe void and the Journal will get really dinged. Stay tuned.
 

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Business 3.0

Prediction Time.

 
As Jerry Seinfeld might say “So what’s up with Rupert Murdoch?” News Corp has four parts to its business: 20th Century Fox Films (underperforming,) Television (performing moderately well), Newspapers (holding their own in a tough market,) and Other which comprises Fox Interactive and MySpace (doing quite nicely.) Rupert’s latest two pursuits, MySpace and Dow Jones, are the source of my prediction.
 
Coming to a computer near you will be a new online business network that will be an amalgam of LinkedIn, Monster, Ning, Harvard Business Review and The Wall Street Journal. Think the three martini lunch meets Red Bull. 
 
This new entity, launching in 2008, will be like nothing we’ve ever seen in the business world. I’m still trying to figure out who will run the show. When I figure that one out, I’ll post it. Who do you think it should be?
 
 

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