Today's Economist dares to look forward
to a post-Murdoch media landscape. It brands Rupert Murdoch 'The last of the moguls' and stops just short of predicting the break-up of News Corporation.
Its editorial makes a connection between the phone-hacking scandal and the old-fashioned, Lord Copper-ish structure of the "family-run public company". This model will die out with Murdoch, it claims. In a separate article, an argument is made that News Corp is "three hypothetical companies: a good one, based on television; a bad one, which makes films; and a downright toxic one, which runs newspapers."
Indeed, the future for newspapers appears grim. Increasingly, the Economist suggests, news content will run across multiple media platforms: people will get their news from the likes of Yahoo News, MSNBC and the BBC, whose news-gathering services will be integrated across television, radio, internet and so on. Niche interests will be catered for by tv- or web-based specialists — Bloomberg for finance, skysports, mumsnet, etc — supplemented by blogs.
This scenario would leave "the suits … firmly in control" of the mainstream media. Rather than promote the opinions and whims of a Murdoch or a Rothermere, these big shareholder-sensitive organisations could be expected to follow the money. What effect would that have on the media landscape? Will we one day look back fondly on the moguls, as we do the idiosyncratic football club chairmen of the 1970s now that teams are owned by private equity firms and absentee landlords?