Comment and Counsel on How Communication Shapes What We Read, See, Hear & Think
Monday, November 7, 2011
Rupert Murdoch & News Corp: Reputation Irony
For a short time in July, it looked as if media mogul Rupert Murdoch would go the way of Ali Abdullah Saleh of Yemen, Hosni Mubarak of Egypt and Moammar Gadhafi of Libya — another dictatorial strong man forced into a shameful exit by a popular uprising.
In my days as a reporter for the Boston Herald, a Murdoch-owned tabloid, that’s the good-versus-evil slant that I might have put on the story — the jowly, leering tyrant stooped like a vulture over the body of a saintly, murdered 13-year-old girl eagerly trading her blood for profits, an outraged nation mobilizing to demand truth and justice as the sordid details of the scandal spilled forth.
After all, stark contrast sells. Given numerous flavor choices, people are least likely to buy the most vanilla of them. Months removed from its summertime peak, the News of the World drama holds leadership lessons for our profession regarding crisis and reputation management. You can read my take on the News Corp. saga in the latest issue ofThe Public Relations Strategist magazine.
Since I submitted the Strategist piece in late September, the Murdochs and News Corp. have remained entirely in reactive mode, so I stand by the conclusion: It will be interesting to see whether a media empire so adept at breaking reputations can do what it takes to recast its own.