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Murdoch calls it what it is: a revolution

Web 2.0, citizen journalism, blogging etc.: we've heard from the elite voices of professional journalism and from those manning the barricades of the new citizen journalism. Now the authentic voice of the global media market, Rupert Murdoch hails the coming revolution that the Internet will bring:

"It is difficult, indeed dangerous, to underestimate the huge changes this revolution will bring or the power of developing technologies to build and destroy - not just companies but whole countries."

Not often that business leaders talk about revolution and really, really mean it. But his meaning here couldn't be more plain. Mr Murdoch was speaking last night to, appropriately, The Worshipful Company of Stationers and Newspaper Makers, a  trade body with a 603-year history (reported in the Guardian by Owen Gibson).

I say again, when I talk to people about social media I like to start with drawing parallels with the print revolution of the 17th century. New means of production and distribution of media: same then as now. Disparate communities given opportunity to have a common voice, share new ideas, form identities and inspire activism: same then as now. Massive disruption of existing media, social, commercial and political models, despite the best efforts of the same to maintain the status quo: this is what is beginning now.

I tell thee, when I'm cheerleading a media and communications revolution in my own organisation and industry it feels good to hear a giant like Murdoch say 'revolution'. Even with his recent investments, arguably no one has a larger investment in the status quo, but he still predicts a riot:

"Societies or companies that expect a glorious past to shield them from the forces of change driven by advancing technology will fail and fall," he warned. "That applies as much to my own, the media industry, as to every other business on the planet."

He also recognises that when you are looking at changes this big, it's myopic to think at the scale of business cycles. Take a historical perspective and things and you can see that it is very likely that we are at the beginning of decades of change and we have yet to even envision the outcomes:

"It is a creative, destructive technology that is still in its infancy, yet breaking and remaking everything in its path. We are all on a journey, not just the privileged few, and technology will take us to a destination that is defined by the limits of our creativity, our confidence and our courage."

Strong words backing up his US $1 billion bet on web media properties over the last year. Stirring stuff.

(Disclosure: I have colleagues who work with News Corp companies, although I do not personally - this piece is my own point of view and completely inspired by the account in the Guardian article cited.)

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It speaks volumes when you have Rupert Murdoch saying what you've highlighted above. But I wonder why he hasn't instructed the Times, Sun and News of the World to follow in the Guardian's footsteps and create a greater online presence if he believes a 'revolution' is happening?

Okay, to be fair, the Times does well with its RSS feeds, blogs and audio but the Sun and News of the World websites are pretty much static. I wonder if it has anything to do with the reader demographics?

Good point, Stephen. Sun is podcasting too, to be fair. But the Guardian is definitely setting the pace on blogging and the Telegraph when it comes to podcasting.

Well, this contradicts my last comment somewhat:


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