by Genevieve Long for the Foreign Policy Association
There is little in this world that I find more confounding than when Rupert Murdoch is portrayed as the last great hope for journalism. First of all, no single person should be allowed to own as many media as he does. There are a plethora of rationale for a statement like this, not the least of which is that being a good businessman with an international media empire doesn’t equate to being a champion of the free press. In fact, some could argue that it is quite the opposite.
Not satisfied with simply owning almost all of the print media in Australia, and newspapers and broadcasting companies in the U.S. and the U.K., Murdoch is now toying with the idea of charging for online media content.
During an investor relations meeting on Aug. 5, Murdoch mentioned that good journalism costs money. This rationale might be feasible if coming from the mouth of a seasoned news editor trying to save their struggling city newspaper. But out of the mouth of the man who owns FOX, whose news reports and programming have been widely criticized for being horribly biased on the right, it seems flippant.
Yes, good journalism can cost time and money, but a great deal of outstanding work is done by intrepid reporters all over the world, under widely varying circumstances. For many of these reporters, the defining factors that ensure their quality of work fall under a few categories: 1) They are a hard-working, honest reporter 2) They are backed and supported by a solid editor 3) They work for a media that believes in telling the truth. To say nothing of the many, many journalists out there who do excellent work for independent media or as freelancers and are making little to no money.
Money is necessary fuel to keep the engine of a news company running. But it certainly is not, never has been, and never will be the foundation of what makes good journalism.