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Saturday, July 23, 2011

Murdoch journalism is born

The small afternoon newspaper that Murdoch started with was the Adelaide News which is the property he inherited from his father.

Murdoch joined the newspaper and put his energy learning the trade by being involved in virtually every aspect of the newspaper from advertising rates to the actual production and printing process as well as editorial. But more significantly it turned out to be the battle ground for his first real newspaper battle and no doubt played a big role in shaping the fighter in Murdoch that was to be seen in later years fighting for the control of newspaper properties against great odds.

It was not an easy one for the man who was quickly nicknamed “the boy publisher” having arrived at the newspaper to take over his inheritance at the tender age of only 22. The tiny newspaper was under serious threat from its’ much bigger competitor, the Adelaide Advertiser. Indeed the bigger paper which was part of a large group was determined to take over the tiny annoying competitor and Rupert’s mother had already received an offer to sell off the newspaper to them but young Rupert could hear nothing of it. He was rather emotional about the whole thing seeing it as an attempt to discredit the memory of his father who had only died so recently.
Rupert Murdoch in the early years

But even at that tender age and with all his inexperience Murdoch injected a number of interesting ideas and was a key member of the team that survived that first battle. I use the word survive because the nasty circulation war that ensued cost both newspapers a lot but considering that the News had such limited resources in comparison, it was a very commendable show.

Murdoch did not quite destroy the competition completely but a compromise was reached which eased the pressure and saw the two arch enemies own one Sunday newspaper together where they shared the revenues on a 50/50 basis.

Another interesting aspect that came out of this first newspaper project for Murdoch was his propensity for cost cutting. The Adelaide News already had a very lean staff and there are those who felt that it would have done well with more staff. Murdoch went in the opposite direction and still constantly looked for ways to cut down on costs even further.

The other important development is that the young Murdoch started developing a relationship with a bank which was to prove to be critical to his newspaper career. He found the National Bank of Australia as the bankers of the Adelaide News, but they were also bankers to their competitors, The Advertiser. Murdoch switched bankers to the Commonwealth Bank and developed such a close working relationship that he was able to get credit at very short notice for many years as he relentlessly built his media empire.

As the 1950s were coming to a close the Adelaide News was making enough money for Murdoch to consider the first acquisitions, which he did against the wishes of some on the board who were much more cautious. Still he won approval to acquire a weekly woman’s magazine called New Idea published in Melbourne and his second newspaper The Sunday Times published in Perth, Western Australia. To acquire the newspaper he put up his first newspaper as security, a very risky financial move because if his new acquisition had gone wrong, he would have lost everything. Not only that, Perth is 1,400 miles (not kilometers) away from Adelaide and yet Murdoch wanted a hands on approach to enable him turn around his second newspaper even as he kept a close eye on his first newspaper. Every Friday he would fly down to supervise his Sunday newspaper and his ruthless reputation now started to take shape. For instance his Sunday Times staff would work on the paper but the minute Murdoch would arrive straight from his flight he would take a look at the front page and tear it to shreds. Thus work would start all over again on the front page. The newspaper became much more sensational and circulation rose. Indeed many observers are of the opinion that it was in Perth that Murdoch journalism was truly born.

The hallmark of Murdoch journalism and what built his empire may be difficult for many to accept. It was the exaggerated story filled with invented quotes. Boring news service copy was completely re-written into lavishly sensationalized articles. The signature would be the blood-curdling headline. Sample one of Murdoch’s best selling headlines in Perth; LEPER RAPES VIRGIN GIVES BIRTH TO MONSTER BABY.

It was also in Perth that Murdoch developed his aggressive newspaper promoting skills.

The quick success of the Sunday Times sparred him on and thus started the rapid expansion and acquisition of other newspaper properties.

Read the next part

Go back to part 1


Anonymous said...

There is no weekend special I have enjoyed more that this one. And I have read them all from Tom Mboya to Biwott, presidential secrets etc.

Kenya army blogspot said...

If a similar headline appeared on one of the local dailies what would happen? BTW Am loving this Murdoch posts.

Anonymous said...

Amy Winehouse is DEAD.
She was found dead at her london home on suspicion of drug overdose.

14 September 1983 – 23 July 2011


Anonymous said...

Mzee Rupert Murdoch's very long journey in the world of journalism reminds me of Norman Cousins, former editor of the Saturday Review and adjunct professor of psychiatry at UCLA (USA), who was quoted for having said that Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest lose is what dies inside of us while we live.

Regardless of Mzee Murdoch's ongoing legal issues, current political fallout in the United Kingdom, and the consequent death (folding) of one of his newspapers, the young Murdoch who started with the Adelaide News he inherited from his father did everything he could to turn his dream into reality against all odds.

The boy publisher never gave up on his father's dream (news paper), he never gave up hope, he never gave up under pressure, nor buckledown in the midst of a vicious competition with a more established and powerful rival, the Adelaide Advertiser, and above all he refused to die but went on to nurture his soul in the world of journalism against great odds.

Many young heirs to the Adelaide News throne, or in his position at the time would have quickly fallen for the tempting business snare that was offered to Rupert's mother and went on to lead their lives in quiet desperation.

However, Rupert Murdoch ventured beyond his comfort zone and went on to build an empire for himself, inspite of what has become of it in light of the hacking scandals.

He has become what many ancients have called a dream releaser rather than a dream killer.

A business mogul who many would agree that he has many other good attributes - minus hacking scandal - that will be emulated in the world of journalism and empire building for many generations to come.

Hate him or like him, Rupert Murdoch is one of a kind. Avery rare breed.

Anonymous said...

i still dont see why anyone in our neck of the woods should care about this. Apart from the ibvious lesson of corruption and collusion between the media, politicians and law enforcement. That's nothing new--we do it in Kenya all the time.

Anonymous said...

Chris, I wish to really really request you to do an expose of this minister. The fellow has been struck off the roll of advocates 3 times because of misappropriating clients money an euphemism for stealing.
He has been accused of giving work permits like sweets to foreigners and selling Kenyan passports and IDS to somali's and other foreigners.
He is the minister for immigration. A close confidant of the PM. Currently, he has designed a scandal that will make anglo leasing look like child play with the production of new generation cards and passports.
I wonder how Kajwang has escaped Chris investigation all these years. It would help your leaders if you can tell us details of the clients whose court awards he stole. Tell us of other malpractises that this crook has been engaged in.
Then tell us what makes him so special to Raila that he would overlook his dark past to award him one of the most sensitive dockets.

Anonymous said...

"We" as in who? Don't forget to check your ego at the far end of your neck of the woods the next time around, and remember to pass credit where its due. In this case to the young Rupert Murdoch, and the author of "Murdoch Journalism Is Born." It won't hurt you nor lessen your value in the neck of the woods near you.

Anonymous said...

Sack Otieno Kajwang ASAP!
Apr28 2011 Written by Omollo

Mr Kajwang’ said the Chinese firms on Thika Road — China Wu Yi, Sinohydro Corporation and Sheng Li Engineering — were allowed to fly in experienced drivers because there were few Kenyans qualified to drive earth movers.

“If you asked me now, because I receive these applications, there are very few Kenyans who can drive earth movers. In my constituency, there is none. I have tried to get one but there is none,” said Mr Kajwang’.

I do not know how we shall ever end corruption in the Department of immigration. I believe if there is one area where I entrust entirely to God and ask Kenyans to completely surrender, it is the issue of corruption in this department that is the gateway to Kenya.

Let me make it clear that I am for the TOTAL FREE movement of people whether they are seeking employment, Residence, Investment or leisure.

This freedom must apply equally to ALL people not just those with deeper pockets and certainly not the corrupt! Let me say here and now that: give me three days, free advertising space in the newspapers and other media and I would cause to form a queue outside Kajwang’s office in Nairobi to the Holoholo boarder crossing in Tanzania. The queue would be composed of the creme la creme of truck drivers. I would have another queue stretching from Holoholo to the Tanzania Malawi border.

Shame on Otieno Kajwang! It is people like him that make me question the wisdom of Raila Odinga in how he appoints his ministers. Kajwang shamelessly says that he alone has looked around for truck drivers in his constituency and finding none formed the opinion that there were “no truck drivers in Kenya” thus issuing work permits to foreigners. I am so pissed of that I feel like setting my degrees on fire and checking in to the nearest Truck driving school for that impossible to get license. First of all Kajwang had no business going to his constituency to look for persons to fill jobs that he had become aware of in his role as minister for immigration. He is in that ministry to work for a salary paid for by the tax payer and cannot run his own private employment agency.


Anonymous said...

Secondly, there must be a process which every employer must follow before work permits or visa for that matter are issued for work in the country. The last time I checked, the employer must have advertised for the positions and gone through the process of recruitment honestly. We know that many employers go through the motions with no intention of hiring locally. The biggest culprits are international organizations and UN agencies. But at least they go through the motions. Kajwang did not show any proof of the efforts made by the Chinese companies to find local personnel or indeed the proof that they had failed to get such personnel locally before he issued work permits. The questioner was equally incompetent and did not pursue the matter to the logical conclusion.

If he has identified that there is a need for 10 000 truck drivers in Kenya, what steps has he taken to ensure that Kenya is self-sufficient in this “highly specialized” human resource? Kajwang is a member of the 50% of the Kenyan government. The ministries for Higher Education and Human Resources belong to the same wing of the government. In fact Kajwang could have called Dalmas Otieno and in pure mother tongue asked him to do something about it. He did not. He seemed more motivated to sign work permits.

There is the East African Community. The idea is to create greater understanding between the countries of the region. I was told there is a free labour movement between a majority of the countries. So how is that benefitting Kenya when all a cabinet minister does is to call a public rally (and we have lately seen how uneducative these rallies have been) to announce job vacancies. If there is a youing man who recently left the National Youth SErvice and had better use of his time did not attend, then that is it – no truck driver in Mbita. Why did Kajwang not send word to Tanzania either through the government or just called an FM radio to request Tanzanian heavy machinery operators to arrive in Nairobi as soon as possible?

We should use the East African Community more especially as we appear to have no land to settle a few IDPs.

Immigration in Kenya is a mess and Otieno Kajwang is not the solution. He is the problem. I am calling on Raila and Kibaki to drop Otieno Kajwang from the cabinet.

Anonymous said...

Kajwang is a thug, its that simple.

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