To celebrate his take-over of the Wall Street Journal Rupert Murdoch spent the equivalent of almost a £1 million on ads in newspapers around the world. Were they a success? They certainly created a lot of attention and comment in the US.
The ads – which ran to three pages in black and white – ran in newspapers in Europe. Asia, the Middle East, Australia and the US, virtually every country where News Corp has interests. But with two notable exceptions. The Financial Times and China Daily – two papers which have little in common – but both declined to run the special celebratory ads.
The ads are the first of the kind ever commissioned by News Corp. They trumpeted Murdoch’s journalistic and business accomplishments over the past several decades. These include the launch of The Sun tabloid and BSkyB satellite broadcasting in Britain, the creation of Fox TV in the US and the purchase of the website MySpace two years ago.
The ads carried the headline ‘Free People, Free Markets, Free Thinking.’ And that is what supposedly upset the China Daily. The paper objected, it’s said, to the liberal use of the word ‘free’ Under law in China the use of such words as ‘first”and ‘best’must have official approval.. Murdoch, it was reported by Fortune magazine rejected the paper’s request to modify the ad.
Referring to the take-over by News Corp of the Wall Street Journal, the ad proclaimed: ‘Today the greatest brand in financial journalism joins up with the world’s most restless global media company’– a claim that reportedly disturbed the FT’s ad department. It requested the line be changed to ‘one of the greatest brands in financial journalism.’But that was rejected by Murdoch.
Commenting on the ads one of America’s leading observers of the journalism scene Diane Mermigas suggested that Murdoch’ s takeover of the WSJ will ultimately lift the entire newspaper industry from its “crippling doldrums” and declining financial fortunes, In other words, Murdoch might just save newspapers.
It was a sentiment echoed by Murdoch himself when he made an appearance over the weekend before the WSJ staff and assured them that even though they might be nervous his aim is to make The Wall Street Journal better and more competitive. He told the hundreds of employees standing in the main newsroom that he understood the “high bar” the staff set for themselves but added “If anything you’ll find we set a higher bar”.
Standing beside Murdoch were two of his new lieutenants: Robert Thomson, former editor of The Times and now publisher of the WSJ, and Les Hinton, former executive head in London, who has been appointed to head all the new operations in New York.