Amid all the hair-pulling over magazine and newspaper layoffs, Rupert Murdoch's speech broadcast in Australia Sunday sounds bracing: "Too many journalists — ...misguided cynics who are too busy writing their own obituary to be excited by the opportunity... — seem to take a perverse pleasure in ruminating on their pending demise," he said. "I believe that newspapers will reach new heights." But the News Corporation chairman's faith in the power of quality journalism and newspaper websites sounds an awful lot like McClatchy chief Gary Pruitt's iconoclastic (and now-ironic) defense of the industry back in 2006, in the Wall Street Journal:
Newspapers are still among the best media businesses... no competitor in local markets has held onto audience as well as newspapers have...
We certainly have competition from Google and others. But in each of the communities where we compete, almost every newspaper has the largest news staff, largest sales force, biggest audience and greatest share of advertising in its market. Whether it's on the Internet or off the presses, we are capturing that business.
...Simply put, more people want our products today than wanted them yesterday; this is hardly the profile of a dying industry.
After Pruitt published that op-ed and completed his company's acquisition of Knight-Ridder newspaper group, his company's shares fell to less than $2 from $48.
Of course Murdoch has faith in newspapers. That's self-evident. Like Pruitt when he published his op-ed, Murdoch's just made a huge investment in the future of newspapers. Hopefully he's right! And hopefully he can really cement the public perception of newspapers as "news [readers] can trust" by not sweeping his company's stock-moving errors under the rug so often, and getting the name Canada straight. They're little things, and to a certain extent unavoidable, but they add up.