This week, News Corp announced that it would spin off its publishing division, thereby sequestering the moldy old newspapers and other not-so-good-but-romantic businesses in their own little quarantine area, while the moneymaking TV and entertainment properties shed the dead weight and continued to print money. It's a common-sense move that News Corp executives not named "Rupert Murdoch" have been advocating for for years. But with all due respect to the mean old man, he's organizing this thing all wrong.
Here's the problem: Rupert Murdoch, everybody knows, loves newspapers, far past any rational financial bounds. He paid more than twice what the WSJ was worth, just because he wanted it, and he could. Yet after News Corp splits, Murdoch will remain chairman of both companies, but only CEO of the entertainment division—meaning that the publishing division, which he cares about more than anyone, will be run by someone else. A better idea:
- 1. Put Rupert completely in charge of the newspaper division. Let him do whatever the hell he wants with it. Let him buy more newspapers, if he wants, with his own money. Sure, let him buy the LA Times. Let him ignore the complaints of shareholders. Let him indulge in all of newspaper-baron fantasies he hasn't been able to get around to, yet. This won't mean much change for the currently owned newspapers at all.
- 2. Let Roger Ailes run the entertainment division. HAHA. That would just be fun to watch. "20th Century Fox to Produce $130 million dramatic live-action version of Ann Coulter's last book." Just fun entertainment for everyone.
- 3. Rupert will die soon.
- 4. When Rupert dies, dissolve the News Corp newspaper division and sell off all of the individual papers. Sell them back to wealthy local owners who are interested in them for the prestige value and can afford to own a newspaper without worrying about screeching shareholders. Would Eli Broad or a similar rich titan like to own the LA Times? Sure. Would Mike Bloomberg like to own the WSJ? Sure. And some asshole (Mary-Kate Olsen?) would probably like to own the NY Post, whatever. The point is: there's little upside to newspaper chains any more. Let a local rich guy have it and fund it. It will ultimately be better for everyone that way.
- 5. Rupert's kids are already rich. Let them start their own god damn company.