Murdoch and the WSJ

Every time I speak, people ask me about new media and money – namely, how to make money through the internet. And they always bring up Rupert Murdoch. He wouldn’t have bought the Wall Street Journal if he didn’t think there was money in it, right?

Right, but wrong. There’s money for Murdoch in buying the Journal, but not the money you’re thinking about. What Murdoch wants is a respectable business brand. The WSJ is that. It was actually a profitable online business, too – their articles were valuable enough for people to pay real money to access them.

But that’s not the money Murdoch wants. Murdoch wants to spend the WSJ’s credibility on two very different things. First, he wants an international news brand for TV and the Internet. Fox is too O’Reilly-polluted to serve as a seemingly neutral source of authoritative financial news. WSJ has a good decade of international branding left in it before it would be totally watered down through overuse.

Second, the WSJ has enough credibility to influence markets. And that’s the real game being played here. The last of the credible top-down media companies will be employed in the continuing public relations strategy for deregulation, the stock market pyramid, or whatever else is in its owners’ interests. As people learn to look at bottom-up media for the credibility that top-down conglomerate-owned media must by definition lack, things will change again. This time for the better.