Murdoch und das Internet

In one of my favorite Murdoch stories, his wife, Wendi, who had befriended the founders of Google, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, told me about how the “boys” had visited the Murdochs at their ranch in Carmel, California. When I marveled at this relative social mismatch and asked what they might have talked about, Wendi assured me that they had all gotten along very well.

“You know, Rupert,” Wendi said, “he’s always asking questions.”

“But what,” I prodded, “did he exactly ask?”

“He asked,” she said, hesitating only a beat before cracking herself up, “‘Why don’t you read newspapers?’”

Diese Geschichte hat Michael Wolff für Vanity Fair notiert. Sie steht in einem langen, lesenswerten Artikel, in dem sich der Biograph von Rupert Murdoch (und Gründer von Newser) der Frage widmet, wie Murdoch über die Digitalisierung und den Wandel in der Medienlandschaft denkt – und worin er das größte Problem sieht:

Murdoch has a larger problem still. It is, after all, not the Internet that has made news free. News in penny-newspaper or broadcast (or bundled cable) form has always been either free or negligibly priced. In almost every commercial iteration, news has been supported by advertising. This is, more than the Internet, Murdoch’s (and every publisher’s) problem: the dramatic downturn in advertising.

Das für mich wirklich Spannende an dem Text ist aber das Fazit, das Wolff über den Mann zieht, der immerhin MySpace gekauft hat. Wolff beendet seinen Text so:

Every conversation I’ve had with him about the new news, about the fundamental change in how people get their news—that users go through Google to find their news rather than to a specific paper—earned me a walleyed stare.

The more he can choke off the Internet as a free news medium, the more publishers he can get to join him, the more people he can bring back to his papers. It is not a war he can win in the long term, but a little Murdoch rearguard action might get him to his own retirement. Then it’s somebody else’s problem.