Earlier, John Koblin cited some gems from Rupert Murdoch’s chat with Esquire, but here’s one that shines a little brighter for us new media watchers: When Mr. Murdoch got all swoony about his acquisition of MySpace, he also snuck in a little jab about Facebook, trying to put down the “what you’d call social networking” site that is basically kicking MySpace’s butt in user numbers, aesthetic, services and advertisers:
When we bought MySpace, we thought it had great possibilities. We didn’t realize it would grow as fast as it has, and of course it has given birth to imitators, which I guess they’re calling Web 3.0, or whatever, and given rise to what you’d call social networking.
We got a big wake-up call from Facebook last year. We put a lot of new things in this year. You can’t write off MySpace. It is a genuine social network where people go to look for friends, to make friends, to look for people with common interests. Facebook — I don’t want to put it down. It does interesting things and has some very able people there, but it is fundamentally a sort of directory. It’s opened up recently to let people bring in new applications. A huge number have tried to do this, but not that many have succeeded.
People spend a lot more time on MySpace than they do on Facebook. Every survey agrees on that. Facebook, they tend to go in to contact friends, to look up who they are going to be in college with, to find old friends, or whatever. On MySpace, people go look for new friends.
Esquire noted that they interviewed him twice for the piece, once in New York and once in Los Angeles. “He speaks crisply and easily when he talks about, say, the future of newspapers, or how he hopes to tame the Internet.” How does he plan on “taming” the Internet? He’ll have to get in with Google if he wants to start controlling all the Web’s information. But he’s thinking he has to compete with The New York Times…:
If you look at the readership of newspapers — both the age of their readership and the numbers — it’s worrying. But if you then look at the number of people who go to the Internet, it’s tremendous.
You have to have a brand that is totally trusted. Now, there are a huge number of people in this country who don’t trust The New York Times. There are a huge number that trust The Wall Street Journal and have, in varying degrees, loyalties to their local newspapers. They enjoy them, or they find that it’s useful information. They go on the Web and use it. That’s the job of a newspaper, to be able to keep people, to stay with them, and to make them satisfied with what they get from one place as much as possible. That’s the challenge.