Lachlan Murdoch has challenged the media industry not to give up on print but instead to promote its strengths, saying News Corporation will lead the conversation if no one else does.
Laying into what he describes as a ‘lack of leadership’ in print, Murdoch describes the industry’s current approach as ‘irresponsible’.
In an interview with Group M media agency boss John Steedman, who earlier defended print’s advertising power, at the Mumbrella360 conference, the News Corp co-chairman and heir-apparent told competitors like Fairfax to stop ‘talking down’ print.
“When it comes to print, we can’t give up on print. It is a very good business and will be for years to come but the industry has not led in the past,” he says.
“We have been supporting the industry and talking it up, which it deserves, but some of our competitors were… actively talking it down in their own products, and that’s just crazy.
“That’s a lack of leadership which is frankly irresponsible and it’s got to stop.”
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Murdoch says the industry needs to lead the conversation about the future of media instead of letting others build a negative narrative that undermines it.
“We have not done a good enough job in recent years of explaining the strength of our business and that’s what we have to do better,” he says.
“We have chosen, if the industry won’t do it, from a News perspective we will stand up and do it ourselves.”
Murdoch says those in the print and media industries need to think outside the box and push boundaries, but was positive about the future.
“I think we are in the greatest industry in the world going through the greatest change we’ve ever experienced. The opportunities are endless,” he says.
“The best way you can thrive within that world is to be disruptive. Find opportunities and don’t settle for the status quo. Take risks and be disruptive.”
Steedman said in March that he is actively encouraging his clients to take a fresh look at newspapers and magazines, arguing print remains a strong avenue for advertising.
He said advertisers have been moving away from print faster than readership, and while circulation figures are falling the negativity around print has been overcooked.
Print, he said, remains a targeted, high impact medium – especially for brands in the financial services and retail spaces.
Steedman blames the ‘digital hype’, as well as a lack of unity among publishers in backing the power of their medium.
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