Murdoch, (Keith) Rupert 1931–
Murdoch, (Keith) Rupert 1931–
PERSONAL: Born March 11, 1931, in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia; immigrated to the United States, 1974; naturalized citizen, 1985; son of Keith (a journalist and newspaper owner) and Elizabeth Joy (a welfare activist; maiden name, Greene) Murdoch; married Patricia Booker, 1956 (divorced, 1960); married Anna Maria Trov, April 28, 1967 (divorced, 1999); married Wendi Deng, June 15, 1999; children: (first marriage) Prudence; (second marriage) Elisabeth, Lachlan, James; (third marriage) Grace Helen. Education: Worcester College, Oxford, M.A., 1953.
ADDRESSES: Office—News Corp. Ltd., 1211 Avenue of the Americans, New York, NY 10036.
CAREER: Media mogul and founder of News Corp. Ltd. Sunday Mail, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, and Adelaide News, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia, owner, 1954–; Perth Sunday Times, owner, 1956–; TV-9, Adelaide, Australia, owner, 1958–87; Daily Mirror and Sunday Mirror, both Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, owner, 1960–; Australian, owner, 1964–; News of the World, England, owner, 1969–; Sun, London, England, owner, 1969–; San Antonion Light and San Antonio Express, San Antonio, TX, owner, 1973–; Star, United States, owner, 1974–; New York Post, New York, NY, owner, 1976–88, 1993–; New York Magazine Corporation, owner, 1977–; Times and Sunday Times, both London, owner, 1981–; Boston Herald American (later Boston Herald), Boston, MA, owner, 1982–; Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago, IL, owner, 1983–86; Fox Television Network, founder and owner, 1987–; Triangle Publications, owner, 1988–; TV Asahi, Japan, owner, 1996–. Also owns cable television networks Fox News, Fox Sports, and FX; film studio Twentieth Century-Fox; thirty-five U.S. television stations; magazine Weekly Standard; publishing houses HarperCollins, Zondervan, and William Collins & Sons; and satellite television systems British Sky Broadcasting (BSkyB) and Star (Asia).
Although he only wrote for newspapers for a few years, first in Birmingham, England, and later at the famous London paper the Daily Express, Rupert Murdoch has made a tremendous impact on the media world through his ownership of newspapers, magazines, television stations, and satellite television systems spanning four continents.
SIDELIGHTS: Media magnate Rupert Murdoch may have done more to popularize the news than anyone else in the twentieth century. Starting in 1954 with just a few Australian newspapers inherited from his father and a bit of experience writing for the British press, Murdoch created a media empire that spans four continents and is worth an estimated thirty billion dollars. Along the way, he has also generated storms of controversy with his politically conservative views and his encouragement of a popularized, sometimes sensationalistic, take on news reporting.
To Murdoch, news is a business just like any other, with an imperative to turn a profit. To this end, he has gone out of his way to make his newspapers and television news shows attractive to people lacking an interest in the dry political and economic news on which large, respected media outlets have traditionally focused. Lurid, attention-drawing headlines are a mainstay technique in Murdoch's newspapers; notable examples include "Headless Body in Topless Bar" (in the New York Post in 1983), "Is Ted Nuts? You Decide" (in the New York Post, about rival media mogul Ted Turner, owner of CNN, after he compared Murdoch to Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler), and one of the most notorious headlines of all time, "Gotcha!," which ran on the front page of the London Sun to celebrate the British sinking of an Argentinian ship, with considerable loss of life, during the Falklands war in 1982.
Murdoch has also gained notoriety for "sexing up" his media outlets. Perhaps the most famous example of this are the "Page Three Girls," topless women whose photographs run daily on the third page of the London Sun. Murdoch instituted the Page Three Girls a year after he bought that paper in 1969; along with other changes, the Page Three Girls helped the Sun to double its circulation in just a year. Racy programming has also helped Murdoch's Fox broadcast television network, which has been in the forefront of the reality dating craze. Fox drew especially sharp criticism from some quarters for hiring former presidential intern Monica Lewinsky, known for her affair with former U.S. President Bill Clinton, as the host of one such show, Mr. Personality.
Murdoch is also known for supporting politically conservative viewpoints with his media outlets. He launched the single largest conservative news source in the United States, Fox News Channel, in 1996 explicitly to compete with the Cable News Network (CNN), which is known for its liberal slant. By 2002, Fox News's self-described "fair and balanced" reporting had won a larger share in the cable news ratings than CNN. Murdoch also launched a respected weekly conservative news magazine, the Weekly Standard, in 1995, and the New York Post, reportedly became more conservative in its editorial positions after Murdoch bought it.
Although reaching retirement age by 2000, Murdoch planned leave his business to his sons Lachlan and James, but showed no signs of slowing down. As Time International contributor William Shawcross observed, "Murdoch wants to die (many years on) with his boots on his feet, several screens of his own programs from around the world in front of him, a newspaper in one hand, and a mouse racing through his Internet world in the other."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Business Leader Profiles for Students, Volume 2, Gale (Detroit, MI), 2002.
Chenoweth, Neil, Rupert Murdoch: The Untold Story of the World's Greatest Media Wizard, Crown (New York, NY), 2002.
Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 127: American Newspaper Publishers, 1950–1990, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1993.
Encyclopedia of World Biography, 2nd edition, seventeen volumes, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1998.
Hack, Richard, Clash of the Titans: How the Unbridled Ambition of Ted Turner and Rupert Murdoch Has Created Global Empires That Control What We Read and Watch, New Millennium (Beverly Hills, CA), 2002.
Newsmakers, issue cumulation, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1988.
Atlantic Monthly, September, 2003, James Fallows, "The Age of Murdoch."
Australasian Business Intelligence, April 6, 2004, "News Corp Quits Australia."
Australian (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia), September 18, 2003, Jane Schulze, "Sky's the Limit for James Murdoch," p. 21.
Daily Telegraph (London, England), September 17, 2003, George Trefgarne, "James Emerges as Murdoch's Heir Apparent: Younger Son Lined up as Sky Chief Ready to Head News Corp. Empire."
Evening Standard (London, England), September 17, 2003, Chris Blackhurst, "Chosen One Who Can Carry the Murdoch Torch and Light up Sky: Ambitious Second Son and Former Dropout James Is Tipped to Assume Father's Mantle," p. 38.
Forbes, April 8, 1996, p. 19.
Time International, October 25, 1999, William Shawcross, "Rupert Murdoch: He Turned a Small-Town Newspaper into a Diverse Media Empire That Informs and Entertains Half the World," p. 116.
British Broadcasting Corporation Web site, http://www.bbc.co.uk/ (September 19, 2003), "BBC Business: Features: Rupert Murdoch"; (July 31, 2002) Andrew Walker, "Rupert Murdoch: Bigger than Kane."
New York Metro Online, http://www.newyorkmetro.com/ (October 20, 2003), Michael Wolff, "BBC You Later."