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Murdoch’s problems may be bigger than we thought

Posted on 24 May 2012 | 6:05am

I spoke at two very different events yesterday, and got some interesting insights into two subjects I think about a fair bit, Rupert Murdoch’s influence, and (unrelated), mental health.

The first event was a conference in London of the Australian pension funds industry, and the reason I was there was to take part in a session on the fall-out from the recent scandals threatening to engulf the Murdoch empire.

I gave an analysis, which will be familiar to Leveson Inquiry regulars, about the cultural changes that have led us to where we are, and spoke more generally about reputation management and how history is littered with examples of reputations built over decades, and lost in days.

So nothing surprising from me, I guess, but what did come as a surprise was the strength of feeling from the audience when they joined in the discussion. To what seemed like fairly widespread agreement, it was suggested by one that the Murdoch brand was now so toxic that News Corp was becoming ‘uninvestable.’ There were pent-up feelings in there too, some big hitters saying they had been warning Murdoch and his people for years that they had to change their ways, become more like an ‘ordinary’ company not a concern dominated by one family and one man, described by someone as ‘totally narcissistic.’

So it went on, to the point that I found myself pointing out that they were having this essentially ethical debate not about the arms trade, the tobacco industry, or investment in countries with shocking human rights records, but a media owner who had got into trouble because of behaviour at a very small part of his global business concern.

But the mood was set, and it was very different to how it might have been even a few years ago. As to whether they will disinvest, then that will depend on their own very hard-headed assessments. But the fact they were talking about it so openly, and in some cases so strongly, was an interesting start to the day. And the overwhelming sense was that even now, there remained no clear strategy at News Corp setting out how they intended to get out of the mess they’re in. One speaker said out loud that the change required will only come when Murdoch is gone. It was a pretty harsh message.

Later to the British Medical Journal Awards in Park Lane, and a brief speech in support of their chosen charity, MIND. A room full of GPs, and I was able to tell them courtesy of MIND chief executive Paul Farmer that in the past 12 months, demand for MIND services had risen by 20 per cent. It is not too hard to work out some of the reasons. The links between unemployment and depression are well-known. But also the cuts in frontline services are beginning to bite.

GPs know more than anyone that many of the people they see day in day out, whatever the stated reason for being in the surgery, are there for reasons to do with mental health. But across the NHS, and across society, we still do not have parity between physical and mental health, both in terms of services and attitudes.

It’s great that the BMJ have chosen MIND as their charity. It is also a sign of how much more we need to do before that parity arrives.

  • reaguns

    I don’t know what’ll happen with Murdoch. I’d like to see more competition in satellite/cable even with govt assistance, I wish Virgin or whoever could be a real competitor for sky, and I had high hopes for Setanta with their online coverage. I am not happy with him owning even 40% of the current sky monopoly let alone 100% of it.

    Likewise I wish he had not been allowed to buy the Wall Street Journal, that is most worrying. He was stopped from buying the FT here and should have been stopped from buying the WSJ.

    Apparently it all boils down to WSJ and Fox, he would be willing to sacrifice everything else including the British papers.

  • Ehtch

    Murdoch’s company has shown great immaturity with what has happened, especially the way they dealt with it in its aftermath, denying everything until the cows come home, and all that, flashing cheques about to buy people, cheques from funds due to Thatcher and Major allowing them to act as their own law, making a mint from sport, primarily. Sky fees were frankly well over priced, then fleecing pubs who wanted to show sport, for instance, and etc..

    And glad to hear state medical services have discovered the mind, and how it acts on our body in various ways, and is not like diagnosing a broken bone, or a grumbling appendix.

  • Ehtch

    I was bitten by an adder when I was four, going up to the top steep garden to feed my pet rabbit in his hutch when we lived in Carmarthen. I was quite ill, ankle swelled up like a rugby ball, delerious, and was like something out of The Exorcist. Some of my family now say that is why I have turned out slightly bonkers and off keel, slant view of life. Many thanks to that adder. Story here,
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-18171174

    And by the way, my rabbit died of mixamatosis, got drops from the pet shop for his ears, but no, he became toast in the end.

  • Ehtch

    By the way Alastair, when I was having time off for myself in the mid 1990’s, as you do, I laid two corrugated sheets from a local friendly farmer down on the Pendine to Amroth coast path, about twenty yards away. Adder city it was very soon. Incredible snakes. Pretty.

    Song for Pendine, and the people there who cared and looked out for me, in my seafront caravan, recovering. Especially surfing friend from there, who broke his neck playing rugger and died pneumonia complications, took me a while to visit back again, Simon.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i1CkRwojNAs

    Marshaux are two excellent ladies from Greece, by the way.

  • Michele

    Oh dear oh dear oh dear oh dear omg memo to Ernie saying ‘I love Bob’ a month before Jez oh dear

  • Ehtch

    fucking ‘ell. watching neshight at the moment, this bloke fromNext – competitiveness??? Why? Why does Europe need to compete against each other? Fuck that state of mind. Song,
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P1A9d6kU7JE

    Fecking yeh!

  • Ehtch

    I follow a glutn free diet, moderm wheat is apoison, and I do it on my own, succesfullyy, BBC London Newsnight, you ignorants. My genetics is not into wheat, simple plants and herbs and fish from rivers and of course boar and birds eggs and of couse deer, of any breed, when old.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kWMvvY5GSjE

  • Dave Simons

    It all adds up now! It was all down to an adder. So that’s why you keep adding these entertaining comments which bear no obvious relation to the topic in hand. Was Rupert Murdoch holidaying in Carmathen when you were drinking your snakebite? Sorry to hear your rabbit died from getting its toes mixed up but of possibly greater concern is – what happened to the adder? Do you know the poem by Oliver Goldsmith about someone being bitten by a dog, which concludes with ‘The dog it was that died’?
    (A few days of warm weather and back comes the Silly Season).

  • Michele

     That wasn’t my impersonation Aitch !!

    As for ‘Bob’?  Must have been thinking of that other Press megalomaniac that thought he ruled the world. 

    Jez loved/s Rupe

  • Is “totally narcissistic”a mental health issue. Why no sympathy for Murdoch then?
    Des Currie

  • Rod Jones

    You may be grateful to the adder, but the rest of us who have to sit through your multiple vacuous comments are not.

  • Ehtch

    Huw, Grace’s dad’s cool friend. : )
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=67rc96joOz8

    JA!

  • Ehtch

    I have stacks of musical shit stored up. You name it, and I will play it.

  • Whatifs

     Have to?

    You don’t.

  • Whatifs

     Silly season or hot under the collar?

    Kerm thi’sen (sp?   LOL).

  • Gilliebc

    Well don’t read them then!  Who the hell are you anyway?  Ehtch is a regular contributor to this site and it wouldn’t be the same without him now.  He is also a very nice and decent guy.  He may be a little zany (some might think) at times, but it would be a very boring world if we were all the same.  It takes all sorts to make up life’s rich tapestry.  Ehtch may march to the beat of a different drum and good on him for it. Regulars here know he went to a Grammer school and is above average intelligence.     

  • Gilliebc

    Sorry Ehtch for writing about you rather than to you in a post to the passing judmental sniper!  Sometimes I can ignore that sort but at other times not!      

    Actually Ehtch I’m not in a good place right now.  Yesterday we had to have our beautiful ‘boy’ cat put to sleep.  He was 14 years old and had been suffering from liver failure for quite a while but for the last week or so he was quite poorly.  The vet had tried everything to no avail, so yesterday I had to do the ‘right’ thing for him.  It wasn’t easy but I guess it’s part and parcel of being a responsible pet owner/keeper.  He (Ambie) was my ‘best’ cat ever.  Though we still have his sister also 14 years old and in good health still and she has a very upbeat cheerful disposition.  I remember you wrote recently that you ‘lurve’ cats so I know you’ll understand how I’m feeling at this time.  I know it will pass of course, but at the moment my little world is a very different place.

  • Gilliebc

    Thought you might have had something from or for Donna Summer last week.  But probably she was just a little before your time.  I have very ‘pleasant’ memories from the time of ‘Love to Love You Baby’ 😉

  • Ehtch

    Ce la vie, my friend. Catch you later, when I have got less time. But I sense you really enjoy, I can tell with these things.

  • Ehtch

    Yeh, Dave, Rupert came down to the Plume and Feathers in Carmarthen, and a right tight fisted git he was, getting him to stand his round was blood out of a stone-like.

    Funny bloke though, asides. But we love ozzies in Carmarthen, even ones up to their neck in coin.

  • Janiete

    I’m not sure how we got from the Murdochs to snakes in the grass but I thought I’d add my two-penneth anyway. Even without the Leveson Inquiry, News International would have been badly damaged by the phone hacking revelations, at least until they could start to rebuild their reputation through their multiple media outlets. But the powerful thing about Leveson is that we can all listen to full evidence, not just a few carefully selected sound bites as is the norm.

    We are hearing things that many in the media, not just the Murdochs, would rather we didn’t. From heartbreaking evidence given by the Dowlers, Ann Diamond and others, to the repeated ‘I can’t remember’ excuses; the full extent of perversion in ‘news’ reporting in our print media has been laid bare. We have been reminded  that common unsavoury headlines have real people and real feelings attached.

    I suspect there is a greater impact when people form judgements for themselves, having seen full detailed evidence, than when views are formed solely from a popular media narrative. Not only do people form a firm view but they know why they feel the way they do with a level of understanding that is often lacking due to inadequate detail, balance and explanation.   

    I hope that when recommendations are made at the end of this inquiry, the benefit of unmediated information is recognised especially in the political sphere. Politicians wouldn’t have to suck up to any news proprietors or editors if the electorate had a fair chance of hearing arguments through some other mechanism. BBC is the key here. They could use their Democracy Live facility to air political speeches and events from all mainstream parties, rather than limiting coverage to Government only events. News24 could make use of the Red Button option so the public can opt to follow a full speech or news conference, rather than having to tolerate an editorial shift to some other issue of limited importance.

    I think lots more ‘from the horses mouth’ coverage is the key to a better informed population in both news and politics. And a better informed public will give us a stronger, more mature democracy.

  • Michele

     Don’t you see these attempts to bring things out more in to the open as one of the few ways possible to get them accepted and regarded as actual illness rather than weakness? 

    GPs have a policy to ask patients needing Med Certs if the MH diagnosis should be shown, why do you suppose they’ve decided that’s important?

    I feel some sympathy for Murdoch myself re the disappointment he must feel about his so-expensively educated son but then I think about how he brought him up and feel sympathy for the son too. 

    I don’t imagine that James Murdoch feels loved and I don’t envy Wendi and the single-mindedness that she must have.

  • Michele

     Claiming mine under the above ID on this blog ….. the old problem of other data popping up as ID!!

  • Michele

     
    Just by the by, another Murdoch having claimed  ‘T’weren’t my fault’  !!

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2010/nov/24/foxtel-loses-australias-next-top-model

  • Dave Simons

     Silly Season. I think you’ve misinterpreted – I like warm weather AND the Silly Season AND Ehtch’s comments, which are etched on my memory!

  • Ehtch

    My god Gilliebc. you are cutting me up here – where’s my hanky. : )

    Cheers, thanks. You are a nice person too.

  • Ehtch

    No probs. Sorry to hear about you cat. Sadly that is the trouble with pet cats and dogs, they live a long less time than us humans. And I can’t understand why kiddies have pet hamsters for instance, they only live for a couple of years, and then the tears.

    Like cats I do, because they can look after themselves, and keep the mice and rats down, while dogs just won’t leave you alone, always following you everywhere you go, being so needy. Anyway, always believed dogs are for work, not as pets. They need a job to fulfill themselves.

  • Ehtch

    Did post something in the arts section somewhere. How about this – after her disco days, which she was embaressed of at the time, from about ’84,
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cPlNrP9B2Zs

    No bad, ey?

  • Gilliebc

    Thanks Ehtch.  Wise words from you also re dogs and hamsters with which I completely agree.

  • Dave Simons

    If he went to a ‘grammer school’ he must certainly have a very comprehensive intelligence.

  • If one catches a bout of severe flu so that you spend a few days in bed, can that be regarded a weakness, allbeit a temporary one?  If one suffers from bouts of depression, while you are in that state you are suffering from a weakness, allbeit a temporary one.
    They both are times when life changing decisions should not be made. And you should not sleep with a gun under your pillow.
    Des Currie 

      

  • Gilliebc

    Very good.  Cheers Ehtch 🙂

  • Michele

    Yes, a bout of ‘flu, known by all to be caused by an infection, brings about weakness.
    Cause followed by effect.

    That is not the ‘spin’ usually put on mental health matters though (as I’m sure you do actually know but aren’t being objective ie: personalising the topic).

    I thought you might like this spoof :
    http://www.the-daily-news.co.uk/2011/09/grace-murdoch-demanded-blair-as-godfather-because-she-was-just-a-massive-fan-of-a-journey.html

  • Ehtch

    It was gap between the hedonism and her natural decency that affected her when she became getting involved with the mid to late ’70’s disco scene.

    And to be thought of as being in the same bracket as Sylvester for instance, she did not like at all, oh no.
    Remember Sylvester? This is the vid I posted of him in the arts section to try, between the lines, in making my point. Cracking tune all the same, but it was really not Donna Summer as the person wanted for her land, Studio 54 and cocaine and all that.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lj5bzbrWRd4

  • Ehtch

    Never could get take to the NYC clubs that came down the queing line and pick you out to enter in front. I was picked, because of course I am a beautiful man, those cheekbones of mine, large domed front brain, and a full head of hair, but I was wasted after going round downtown NYC, Greenwich Village and all that, visiting and talking to the staff Of Chelsea Hotel, Dylan Thomas’ last nights, and I thought – jesus, if they are letting me in front of all these, they will have an eye on me, let alone the ones I overtook, so I just jumped in a taxi and went back to New Jersey.

    Another time maybe. I already heard they like people dressed up strange, so I dressed up as a welsh farmer at his own local nightclub/farmers dance, with a right strange wooly pulley I took on my trip. That what did it I think, as well as the cheekbones.

  • Ehtch

    What about the rest of my posts Alastair, come on, make an old man happy – I put in a lot of midnight work them. The poems at least?

    Sorry to whinge and complaing. Maybe you havn’t got around to them all yet, and I am becoming needy instantly? Sorry if so. Post the Anita Baker one at least to Gillebec, since she likes cats, like me. That might do, I suppose. Hope now to get up to 600 poems and innane comments in the arts section by the Olympics, unless there is volunteers out there that can help me, posting my shite? : )

  • Not only Murdoch has a problem, quite a few people are shiddering now I would guess. 
    http://www.native-translator.co.uk/

  • Gilliebc

    I’d forgotten about Sylvester tbh.  But instantly recognised his music.  There’s something very hypnotic about disco music which is probably not ‘good’ but I still like it even after all these years.   Rap and hip hop have far more undesirable effects I believe.  The music industry particularly in the US has more than it’s fair share of not very nice people who control and manipulate some well known names to a very large extent.  These people know how to exploit what should be harmless entertainment and always have done.

  • Ehtch

    State modern university of life of our own minds, it might be also. Never thought of that have you Dave.

    Watch my comments, and I will personally educate you, for free.

  • Ehtch

    Got to admit, this sudden warm weather is making me a bit nuts. So yes, very silly-billy season it is Dave. Spot on.

  • Ehtch

    Don’t take me wrong, disco was a great equaliser for races in NYC, especially the obvious, which led to hip-hop and such. Under the skin we are just the same, but what is stored in the brain, instinctive or not is the problem. Remember the english actor Edward Woodward in his NYC Equaliser series? I do, it was seriously deep between the lines, with messages of “ractial harmony” and that. Helped NYC be what it is now, understanding big city on a remakable big scale. Love to live there, but can’t afford the fucking rents there. Clip here from it,
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cG7HRYXssMM

  • Ehtch

    In the old days of local village hall discos, with a bar, young lads not brave enough to dance getting pissed on the sidelines, I would have played above as the last snogging dance, if it was then around.

  • Ehtch

    Hold the surfboad at it’s back in low water,
    when teaching your daughter to paddle out into the storm, then tell her wave choppy and foamy coming in when not, paddle as if, give it all, then you will get to the outside,
    of it all.

  • Ehtch

    Depression is the success of the homo sapiens sapiens human race. Has that entered your mind?

    There is a lot in that, study and google search it my friend. It is modern David Attenborough-like interesting, which you tend not to be able to see on common and man beeb telly.

  • Ehtch

    Madonna on Long Island? Madge?
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rSaC-YbSDpo

  • Ehtch

    that should get anyone’s bum muscles moving, oh yes Grace and friends

  • Dave Simons

     Yes of course I’ve thought of that. I’m surprised you thought I hadn’t! I’ll certainly keep watching your comments, and thank you for the free education, an ongoing process through life which I personally did not acquire courtesy of grammar school, rather in spite of.