A quite controversial figure (his third and current wife is roughly 40 years his junior, and his entertaining style of journalism was often criticized), Rupert Murdoch is the chairman and CEO of News Corporation and the 122th richest person in the world (net worth: $7.6 billion). Born in Melbourne, Australia on March 11, 1931, he is now 80 years old and the ruler of an entire media empire, known as News Corporation. Here is the story of his great success.
The only son of Sir Keith Murdoch and his wife Dame Elisabeth Joy (nee Greene), Keith Rupert Murdoch was named after his father and his maternal grandfather. Sir Keith Murdoch was a famed Australian World War I reporter who co-founded the Australian Journalists Association, became the editor of Sydney Morning Herald and later the manager of Herald &Weekly Times newspaper group in Australia. He was knighted in 1933.
When Rupert and his sisters were born, their family was already pretty wealthy, so all four children enjoyed a good life and a sound education. Their mother made sure they had classic literature to read and quality music to listen to. However, as it often happens in wealthy families, the boy’s relationship with his father was not exactly harmonious . After graduating from the elite Geelong Grammar School, Rupert went on to continue his studies at Oxford University in the U.K. When his father passed away in 1952, Rupert was only 21 years old, but he decided to leave Oxford and take over his father’s business. He became the managing director of News Limited in 1953, at only 22 years of age. This marked the beginning of a fascinating story of success and expansion.
When he came back home from the U.K., Rupert expected a substantial inheritance, but he only got a controlling stake in one newspaper, the Adelaide News. This however was enough for a young, talented man to start building himself an empire. The fresh approach that he brought to the paper increased its circulation and in no time he found himself acquiring smaller newspapers from other regions. He soon directed his attention towards expansion and in the next few years he became a renowned Australian business operator who acquired numerous newspapers in his country.
But operating within the borders of Australia soon became too little for the dynamic entrepreneur, so he directed his attention towards important publications in other countries as well: first in New Zealand, then in the U.K. and the U.S. Clearly, a huge expansion like this, was made with great efforts and great sacrifices too. Murdoch himself once said: “I’m a catalyst for change … You can’t be an outsider and be successful over 30 years without leaving a certain amount of scar tissue around the place.”
What kind of scars was he talking about? Well, in England for instance, in his decision to modernize the industry and the printing process, he laid off thousands of workers, attracting a lot of criticism. His management style was also often described as ruthless. Also in England he took drastic measures in order to eliminate corruption, theft, waste and overstaffing. Unsurprisingly, protests and petitions against him did not fail to appear. But the history of his empire shows that Murdoch’s determination to expand his business eventually brought him everything he had hoped for.
Another reason for which he was often criticized was his newspaper’s focus on crime, sex and scandal stories, all with flashy headlines, of course. While others considered him an irresponsible and rude journalist, he saw his fellow publishers snobbish and boring. His daring and innovative spirit took many forms. For instance, after having bought The Sun (1969), a worn-down liberal newspaper, Murdoch used some very simple yet effective methods to revive it, including featuring daily pictures of a topless girl on page three.
It wasn’t long before Murdoch decided he wanted to branch out. In 1983 he acquired a controlling interest in London’s Satellite Television and two years later he bought film company Twentieth Century Fox. In 1986 he purchased six television stations, set on establishing a new major network in the U.S., named Fox Television. For this he had to gain American citizenship, because the U.S. only allows American citizens to own broadcast stations. During the ‘80s Murdoch’s corporation continued to expand rapidly, as he bought interests in newspapers, television stations, magazines, book publishing, the film industry and more. Today News Corporation is the second largest media conglomerate in the world in terms of revenue (number one is The Walt Disney Company), and the third largest in entertainment.A prominent figure like Rupert Murdoch is always very likely to be portrayed in different media like films, music, books and of course, TV shows. “The Simpsons”, “Selling Hitler”, “Black and White”, “The Late Shift”, all these and more were movies and shows in which the media mogul was depicted. For his appearance in “The Simpsons”, Murdoch himself interpreted the role, first in “Sunday, Cruddy Sunday” and later in “Judge Me Tender”.
The media wizard’s personal life is best described as nonconventional, with his third and current wife being almost 40 years younger than him. Rupert Murdoch first married in 1956 to Patricia Booker, who in 1958 became the mother of his first child, Prudence. Rupert and Patricia got divorced in 1958 and that same year he married his second wife, Anna Torv, a journalist that worked for Murdoch’s Sydney newspaper “The Daily Telegraph”. She is the mother of Elisabeth, Lachlan and James, Rupert’s next three children. After finding out about her husband’s affair with Wendi Deng, Anna Torv divorced Murdoch in 1999. Only 17 days after the divorce was finalized, Rupert and Wendi (who was the newly appointed vice president of Star TV, a subsidiary of News Corporation) got married. Back then, he was 68 and she was 30. In 2001 they had their first child together (Grace Helen) and in 2003 Chloe – his youngest child – was born.
His wealth is vast, his success is huge, his influence is still great. After several decades of hard work, aggressive company expansion programs and bold branching out, the 80-years-old media tycoon has got one of the biggest media corporations in the world, six children and a beautiful young wife. Some could even say that Rupert Murdoch has actually got it all.