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Rupert Murdoch’s Retirement and Lachlan Murdoch’s Ascension

Rupert Murdoch's Retirement and Lachlan Murdoch's Ascension

The media landscape is undergoing a seismic shift as Rupert Murdoch, a towering figure in the industry for decades, announces his retirement. At the age of 92, Murdoch has decided to step away from the empire he painstakingly built, leaving many to ponder the future of Fox and News Corp. While this transition isn’t entirely unexpected, given Murdoch’s age and the gradual handover of power to his son, Lachlan, it marks a momentous juncture in media history.

Murdoch’s Reach and Influence

Rupert Murdoch’s influence in the media world has been colossal, encompassing major Australian daily newspapers, Britain’s best-selling tabloids, and influential American outlets like Fox News. His journey began in the early 1950s when he inherited a newspaper in Adelaide. Over the years, he achieved remarkable business success but also faced criticism for controversies such as the UK phone-hacking scandal and Fox News’s role in promoting rigged-election conspiracies, which resulted in Fox paying a substantial $US788 million to Dominion Voting Systems.

Former Australian prime ministers Kevin Rudd and Malcolm Turnbull have previously called for a Murdoch Royal Commission to scrutinise News Corp’s wielding of power in Australia. The retirement of Rupert Murdoch raises questions about the future trajectory of these media giants.

New Role for the Media Mogul

Rupert Murdoch may be stepping down, but he’s not entirely stepping away. Starting in November, he will hold the title of Chairman Emeritus at News Corp and Fox, a position reserved for past chairmen who maintain an association with the business. His eldest son, Lachlan Murdoch, will assume the role of the sole chair of News Corp while continuing to lead Fox.

In a letter addressed to his staff, Rupert Murdoch declared his intent to remain actively engaged in the “contest of ideas,” emphasising the importance of these media companies as communities. NPR journalist David Folkenflik, the author of “Murdoch’s World,” notes that while this retirement may not come as a complete surprise, it is a moment to reflect on Rupert Murdoch’s extraordinary career and the impact, both positive and negative, that he has had on the media landscape.

Who and What Kind of a Successor Will Take Over

The question on many minds is what kind of media mogul Lachlan Murdoch is likely to become. Close to his father, Lachlan shares a worldview that emphasises freedom and a commitment to questioning self-serving bureaucracies and elites. Their shared values underscore that for the Murdochs, running a media empire transcends mere financial gain. Both father and son seem drawn to the political power that media ownership affords, the thrill of striking deals, and the opportunity to be at the centre of important discussions.

However, the differences between Rupert and Lachlan are apparent. Rupert Murdoch retains a deep affection for newspapers even as their social relevance and commercial viability decline. Lachlan, on the other hand, faces the challenge of navigating a “post-print future.” Moreover, Lachlan is perceived as more politically conservative than his father in many respects, sparking speculation that outlets like Fox News may tilt further to the right under his leadership.

The Future with Lachlan

Matt Gertz, a senior fellow at Media Matters for America, suggests that we may witness a doubling down on “hardcore, radical, nationalist content” in Murdoch-owned outlets under Lachlan’s stewardship. Lachlan Murdoch is often regarded as a true believer, someone who genuinely espouses the ideologies promoted by these media platforms.

As the media landscape continues to evolve, the transition from Rupert to Lachlan Murdoch at the helm of Fox and News Corp holds profound implications not only for these media conglomerates but also for the broader media industry and its role in shaping public discourse. The coming years will undoubtedly provide insights into the direction these media giants will take under Lachlan’s leadership.

Brini Wines