News Corp's Lachlan Murdoch Defends Print Media

5:01 AM PST 06/04/2014 by Pip Bulbeck
Lachlan Murdoch

In a presentation in Australia, the News Corp co-chairman criticized competitors for "talking down print," arguing that "newspapers have a long life left in them."

SYDNEY – News Corp co-chairman Lachlan Murdoch believes there’s a long life left in newspapers, with print media to remain “a core part of our business for years to come.”

Murdoch was making his first public remarks since returning to work at News Corp earlier this year after an eight year absence.

At an industry conference in Sydney he criticized News’ competitors for “talking print media down" as the industry grapples with competition from online, fragmenting audiences and its transition to digital media.

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“There is a challenge [in print], absolutely. We are embracing digital, absolutely; but newspapers have a long life left in them,” he told the audience.

“We [have been] supporting the industry and talking up the industry, which it deserves, but some of our competitors were talking it down, actively talking it down in their own products, and that’s just crazy,” he added.

“That’s a lack of leadership, which is frankly irresponsible and it’s got to stop. We have not done a good enough job in recent years of explaining the strength of our business and that’s what we have to do better,” Murdoch said.

It’s a refrain that’s been heard several times from News Corp executives in recent weeks. In early May, News Corp global CEO Robert Thomsen told advertisers and media buyers at an “upfront” style event in Sydney that he has little time for the thought that "print is dead."

“It’s a sign of a morbid mindset that afflicts not just this country but, internationally, some media groups,” Thomsen said then.

“If you speak for print, does that mean you don’t get digital? That’s clearly not the case if you look at what we’re doing here in Australia and globally. It’s because we get digital that we fully appreciate the power of print. You need to have the platform permutations that suit the reader and advertisers.”

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Murdoch said the future of print, and News Corp, lay in not settling for the status quo.

“I think we are in the greatest industry in the world going through the greatest change we’ve ever experienced. The opportunities are endless,” he said.

“The best way you can thrive within that world is to be disruptive. Find opportunities and don’t settle for the status quo. Take risks and be disruptive,” he added.

But while News Corp remains confident about the strength of its legacy print businesses, Murdoch said that News Corp and 21st Century Fox, of which he is also co-chairman, would continue to “shake up the establishment.”

“That’s what we will continue to do ... It’s part of our cultural DNA that we’ve got to protect that and keep moving forward.”

“The ‘new’ News is going to be here for a long time,” he said. “We see ourselves very much as a young business. News and Fox as well have always been challenger businesses.

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