Andrew Allentuck

Monday, December 17, 2001

The Murdoch Mission: The Digital Transformation of a Media Empire
by Wendy Goldman Rohm
John Wiley & Sons, 2001, 288 pages

Rupert Murdoch inherited the know how of running the business end of news from his father, Sir Keith Murdoch, who published papers in Australia. Son Rupert figured that more was always better and aimed to be more than a manufacturer of provincial papers. His News Corp.expresses that ambition, some critics say blindly, trading taste for circulation and audience numbers. Some wags have joked that while most major networks worry endlessly about getting a balanced view of the rightness and wrongness of capital punishment, Murdochís Fox network would show live executions if they could.

Author Wendy Goldman Rohmís take on Mr. Murdoch is respectful more than friendly, but she pulls her punches even as she convicts him of nepotism (his son Lachlan is the operating head of the firm), ruthless competitiveness, and financial opportunism. She dutifully lists the major criticisms of Murdoch, then closes with her subjectís own statment of motive. ď...Never be boring,Ē he says. Ms. Rohm, with a tabloid writerís eye for detail, is anything but.