Personally, I take no pleasure in the bit-by-bit unraveling of Rupert Murdoch and his worldwide media conglomerate. But as a journalist, I am enjoying every bite being inflicted on his 80-year-old carcass and the certainty that he will have a much-reduced influence in the otherwise honorable calling of media ownership.

We are used to seeing numbers 1-10 on scales of measurement. In the matter of Rupert Murdoch and his contribution to journalistic integrity, I’ve long put him at about -6. And even that may be generous.

While all his newspaper, radio and television holdings are seemingly not as out of control as the British tabloids in his stable, many flirt with the same precipice as the News of The World. Content is crafted not so much to inform as it is to influence; not so much to report as to report a point of view.

Advocacy is an honorable and worthwhile part of the media spectrum. When published as such, or at least labeled as such, the user can be informed and helped to understand a given point of view. But when passed off as regular news – as it is with Fox Broadcasting and the Wall Street Journal in this country – it is philosophy in the guise of news. Murdoch’s empire is a leading practitioner of that lowlife style.

Lest you think I’m being too hard on Rupert, remember, he sits atop the largest single package of media sources in the world. He’s a tough old Australian. He calls the tune. If anyone thinks he and his uppermost subordinates aren’t acutely aware of what’s been happening in the newsrooms of his empire on a daily basis, they are underestimating the situation. And him.

Remember, too, the current journalistic mess in London is not the first time; only the most recent. Twice before, NOTW was “investigated” for much the same unprofessional behavior. Results of both inquiries whitewashed employees and their outside accomplices and life went on. The big difference this time is charges have sucked in members of the British royal family, prominent politicians and law enforcement as well as Murdoch’s top-level management. The flames are too big and too widespread for any of Murdoch’s henchmen and a couple of fire extinguishers.

I don’t mean to sound like an “old-timer” chewing on sour grapes. This sort of media integrity failure is something many of us who’ve been in the business much of our lives have worried about for a long time. The primary reason has been changes in ownership from media professionals to investors and “bean counters.” From individual and most often private ownership to large companies with stockholders concerned more with profit than professionalism.

In the 1970’s, commercial radio in our country became a Monopoly game with combines of investors – many of whom had no media knowledge – scouring the country for stations. Any stations. The idea was to amass as many as possible as quickly as possible – often at exorbitant prices – then take the whole debt-ridden package public, thus passing off huge debts to groups of unwary investors. The “packagers” would then return to their previous obscurity in Montana or elsewhere. And investors were stuck with properties nowhere near prices they had paid for them.

It was fraud on a huge scale and – because of rules changes by some key political appointees – legal. Television owners watched this economic windfall and put “For Sale” signs on their places of business. A couple more political decisions – accompanied by some friendly court rulings – and most newspapers, TV and radio were no longer owned by people you knew and trusted. Profit – more often than not – replaced community service and responsibilities for informing that community. Newsrooms were closed. Sales staffs enlarged as the new investor-owners tried to dig themselves out of the huge debts they had bought into.

Murdoch was one of the buyers. But he started earlier and was one of the smarter ones, adding only what he needed to make himself relevant in very large world markets i.e. New York, Washington D.C., London, Paris, Delhi, Sidney, etc. Profitability was crucial to him but with his worldwide reach and his politically conservative views, reshaping world political opinion shared an equal seat at the Murdoch corporate table.

Murdoch knew of the decay in his London newspaper. He had to. What he didn’t count on was the eventual reach into Windsor Castle, Scotland Yard and the London Police Department. Some of his lower minions, unfettered with professional morals – with bosses similarly inclined – got out of hand and walked Murdoch right to the gallows.

My wish is that he “twist slowly in the wind” for some time and that his fortunes become smaller. And ownerships fewer. A sign should be permanently affixed to his old body warning other media owner-power brokers of the deception of power and fortune based on unprofessional business practices.

Murdoch has spent his life building an empire run by his own rules. It’s well-past time he learned the rules that apply to the rest us have his name on them, too.

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