The Colourful, Divisive Legacy of Retiring Media Tycoon Rupert Murdoch

Photo by Bank Phrom on Unsplash

By Omar Malik (He/Him)

Dominating and moulding the British, American and Australian media landscapes for decades, mogul Rupert Murdoch has announced his resignation from News Corp and Fox – ending the career of one of the media’s most influential and notorious figures.

Divisiveness follows Murdoch’s name – depending on who you ask, the tycoon is either an innovator in how entrepreneurial journalism can be crafted – or, he is derided for forever tainting the media landscape by encouraging socio-political biases and populist-targeted animosity.

Defined by his ruthlessness, it was only in the late-1960s that the unstoppable force of Murdoch as a media tycoon began. Taking ownership of News of the World and The Sun, Murdoch reimagined the papers’ diminishing popularity in British culture, approaching topics in a strikingly showy manner.

Journalism is publicly perceived rather negatively nowadays, and Murdoch’s critics blame this fate on his employment of bombastic, highly sensationalist headlines – which in turn revolutionised the world’s media environment.

By the mid-1980s, Murdoch exuded entrepreneurial prowess, acquiring both the UK’s Times and Sunday Times newspapers.

Dominating the era of print in the latter part of the 20th century, Murdoch additionally assured his permanence during the television revolution. Acquiring Fox resulted in the mogul’s influence extending to the US – long-running television shows like the Simpsons have permeated today’s society; while the right-wing leaning Fox News remains one of America’s most established news channels.

Murdoch has faced mounting criticism for many decades regarding his conservative-leaning stories- for many, this partisan outlook was unrighteous for such an influential figure to fervently display.

Omnipotent, Murdoch’s explicit favouring of certain political candidates would often coincide with their electoral victory – including his U-turn upon supporting then-Labour leader Tony Blair in the run-up to his landslide victory.

The early-2010s would see growing criticisms of Murdoch’s unethical acquiring of stories – most notoriously, the News International phone hacking scandal. Findings revealed that employees of Murdoch’s British newspapers, particularly News of the World, participated in the acts of phone hacking and police bribery.

The newspaper ceased trading, and while Murdoch’s other ventures retained their popularity, he became viewed in a more unscrupulous light following the scandal.

Plainly, Murdoch has a complex legacy within the media industry – being both undeniably impactful and bitterly divisive. Yet as he retires, and his son Lachlan takes over his empire, only time will tell whether the Murdoch dynasty can maintain its societal hold.