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The Man Who Owns the News: Inside the Secret World of Rupert Murdochby Michael Wolff
Synopses & Reviews
PROLOGUE: HIS MESSAGE
FALL 2007-WINTER 2008
Rupert Murdoch, a man without discernible hubris-or at least conventional grandiosity-had nevertheless begun to believe that his takeover of Dow Jones and the Wall Street Journal, something he'd dreamt about for most of his career, might actually indicate that he and his company, News Corporation, had a certain destiny, a higher purpose of which the world should be made aware.
He'd started to think that his triumph in the quest for Dow Jones was an opportunity to rebrand-the kind of marketing frippery he usually disdained. He was even toying with the idea of changing the name of News Corp., that oddly boring, genericsounding throwback to the company's earliest days-his first paper in Adelaide, Australia, was the News–to something that could better indicate his and News Corp.’s philosophical reason for being.
What that reason for being exactly was . . . well, um . . . that was still hard to actually put into words. But it had something to do with . . . well, look at these:
He had mock-ups of full-page ads that, he was thinking, should run in all the Wall Street Journal's competitors-particularly the New York Times and the Financial Times-on the day he took over the paper.
One of the ads had the big headline Agent Provocateur. Another pursued the idea of pirates–the notion being that for more than fifty years the company had been . . . well, if not exactly outlaws . . . not literally, still . . .
When, after many hours of conversation with Murdoch, I despaired of ever getting an introspective word out of him, his son-in-law Matthew Freud, the PR man from London, advised me to ask him about being a change agent.
This conversational gambit prompted Murdoch's enthusiastic unfurling of these ads and eager, if far from concrete, ideas-We’re change agents, he kept repeating, as though new to the notion-about the meaning of News Corp. and, by extension, himself. It also prompted dubious looks from some of the executives closest to him. Murdoch's sudden search for an ennobling and guiding idea was a vexation not just because it called attention to exactly what News Corp. executives often despaired of-that image of runamok ruthlessness that the battle for Dow Jones had stirred up all over again-but also because it was distinctly out of character.
Soul-searching wasn't, to say the least, a part of the News Corp. culture. So it was curious, and unsettling, to have the veritable soul of the company trying to figure out why he'd gotten where he’d gotten, and for what good reason.
Such a statement about his fundamental righteousness (and even, perhaps, relative coolness) was, significantly, being urged on him by his son James, a Harvard dropout who had started a music label and then spearheaded News Corp.'s new-media initiatives in the 1990s, and who had become the CEO of British Sky Broadcasting (BSkyB), the News Corp.-controlled company that operates the Sky satellite TV network in the United Kingdom. Not long before, Murdoch had favored his older son, Lachlan, and before that his daughter Elisabeth, to eventually run News Corp. But now it was James. In fact, unbeknownst to the rest of News Corp., James was about to be given responsibility for the U.K., Europe, and Asia
Written by an award-winning columnist for "Vanity Fair," this work offers an exclusive glimpse into Rupert Murdoch's $70 billion media kingdom and his worldwide influence in the media.
If Rupert Murdoch isn’t making headlines, he’s busy buying the media outlets that generate the headlines. His News Corp. holdings—from the New York Post, Fox News, and most recently The Wall Street Journal, to name just a few—are vast, and his power is unrivaled. So what makes a man like this tick? Michael Wolff gives us the definitive answer in The Man Who Owns the News.
With unprecedented access to Rupert Murdoch himself, and his associates and family, Wolff chronicles the astonishing growth of Murdoch's $70 billion media kingdom. In intimate detail, he probes the Murdoch family dynasty, from the battles that have threatened to destroy it to the reconciliations that seem to only make it stronger. Drawing upon hundreds of hours of interviews, he offers accounts of the Dow Jones takeover as well as plays for Yahoo! and Newsday as they’ve never been revealed before.
Written in the irresistible stye that only an award-winning columnist for Vanity Fair can deliver, The Man Who Owns the News offers an exclusive glimpse into a man who wields extraordinary power and influence in the media on a worldwide scale—and whose family is being groomed to carry his legacy into the future.
About the Author
MICHAEL WOLFF, a columnist for Vanity Fair and two-time National Magazine Award winner, is one of the nation’s most influential writers about media, culture, and politics. He is a regular commentator for CNBC, as well as for numerous other national news programs. In 2003, he achieved international recognition for his dispatches from the Persian Gulf as the Iraq War began. He is the author of four books, including Autumn of the Moguls and Burn Rate. He lives in New York.
Table of Contents
The butterfly effect — Around the corner — The throwback — Opposing families — The outsider — His art — Business guys, the eighties — It's a tabloid world — Who's the boss? — Rupertism — The nineties, the amazing Mr. M — Rupert in love — The ecology — Dynasty — Putting the deal to bed.
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