Is Rupert Murdoch too old to matter? In the face of the worst downturn in the history of the newspaper business -- what everybody except Rupert believes is a structural rather than cyclical decline -- he bought the Wall Street Journal, built the world's largest newspaper printing plant just outside of London, and is still talking about buying the New York Times. Yesterday, his company, News Corp., posted the biggest losses in its history. In response, my Uncle Rupert-- who as recently as a year ago, when we last spoke, had yet to go, unassisted, onto the Internet -- announced that he would shortly make his newspapers available online only if you paid for them.
Well, I'll say this, he's swimming against the tide.
His uphill fight is probably even greater than it might appear. Not only is he, among all media executives, the most technically disinclined (actually, totally illiterate), but his company, of all the big media enterprise, is the most technically backward and maladroit. He may now employ more reporters than anyone else in the world, but they use the oldest computers. He may have some of the world's most trafficked news sites, but they are also the slowest and most inept. Technology, at News Corp., has always been regarded as one of those things, like fancy hotels, or long-form writing, that are not part of the company culture.
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