Charles Cooper summarizes some of the key points in the 3rd lecture:
Murdoch … criticized what he described as a culture of “complacency and condescension” in some newsrooms.
“The complacency stems from having enjoyed a monopoly–and now finding they have to compete for an audience they once took for granted. The condescension that many show their readers is an even bigger problem. It takes no special genius to point out that if you are contemptuous of your customers, you are going to have a hard time getting them to buy your product. Newspapers are no exception.”
The 77-year-old Murdoch, recalling a long career in newspapers that began when his father’s death forced him to take over the Adelaide News in 1952, said the profession has failed to creatively respond to changes wrought by technology.
“It used to be that a handful of editors could decide what was news-and what was not. They acted as sort of demigods. If they ran a story, it became news. If they ignored an event, it never happened. Today editors are losing this power. The Internet, for example, provides access to thousands of new sources that cover things an editor might ignore. And if you aren’t satisfied with that, you can start up your own blog and cover and comment on the news yourself. Journalists like to think of themselves as watchdogs, but they haven’t always responded well when the public calls them to account.”
To make his point, Murdoch criticized the media reaction after bloggers debunked a “60 Minutes” report by former CBS anchor, Dan Rather, that President Bush had evaded service during his days in the National Guard.
“Far from celebrating this citizen journalism, the establishment media reacted defensively.
During an appearance on Fox News, a CBS executive attacked the bloggers in a statement that will go down in the annals of arrogance. ’60 Minutes,’ he said, was a professional organization with ‘multiple layers of checks and balances.’ By contrast, he dismissed the blogger as ‘a guy sitting in his living room in his pajamas writing.’ But eventually it was the guys sitting in their pajamas who forced Mr. Rather and his producer to resign.
“Mr. Rather and his defenders are not alone,” he continued. “A recent American study reported that many editors and reporters simply do not trust their readers to make good decisions. Let’s be clear about what this means. This is a polite way of saying that these editors and reporters think their readers are too stupid to think for themselves.”