The Business of Being a CEO
On Monday of this week, The New York Times launched a delicious, old-fashioned hatchet job on Australian/UK/U.S. media lord Rupert Murdoch, whose bid for The Wall Street Journal is a threat to the Pinch Sulzberger’s flagging advertising.
The gist of the Times’ Monday story is that Murdoch uses his newspapers and TV networks to further his own agenda. In addition, reports the Times, he has built his $68 billion empire by bribing important politicians with campaign contributions and juicy book contracts and they, in turn, pass legislation that bends the rules to his News Corporation’s advantage.
Tuesday’s story in the Times was all about the myriad ways Murdoch sucked-up to the Chinese in order expand his empire into that ballooning marketplace.
“News Corp. has consistently cooperated with The New York Times in its coverage of the company,” Murdoch fired back. “However, the agenda for this unprecedented series is so blatantly designed to further the Times’ commercial self interests—by undermining a direct competitor poised to become an even more formidable competitor—that it would be reckless of us to participate in their malicious assault. Ironically, The Times, by using its news pages to advance its own corporate business agenda, is doing the precise thing they accuse us of doing without any evidence.”
The Wall Street Journal staff and the Bancroft family that own the voting stock of Dow-Jones are terrified that if the paper is sold, no one in the company will have job ownership and will be forced either to dance to Murdoch’s ideological bent or leave. If enough people leave, it will become the Australian’s mouthpiece. According to the Times, this is Murdoch’s traditional Modus Operandi.
But Murdoch has apparently agreed to editorial hands-off, and the sale is in the end-game stages.
So what is leadership?
To use a circus analogy, is leadership being a diplomatic ringmaster like Warren Buffett, or a cruel lion tamer with a whip and a chair like corporate turnaround specialist “Chainsaw” Al Dunlap?