Rupert Murdoch embodies influence in a way that no other modern media mogul can approach. And do you know why? It’s not his empire, it’s not his money, it’s not his business sense (though all three of those are important). The real reason Mr. Murdoch has achieved a ubiquitous footprint unseen in American media since William Randolph Hearst is an unprecedented nose for news and entertainment and a true passion for packaging both.
Love him or hate him—and there are plenty on each side—but don’t misunderstand his success. Rupert Murdoch succeeds where others fail because where rivals are creating spreadsheets, he is creating a tapestry. Where rivals are conducting focus groups, Mr. Murdoch is conducting a symphony. A symphony that runs from The Wall Street Journal to the Fox collection of networks to HarperCollins to DirecTV to Fox Movie Studios and 20th Century Fox. It’s called “vision.”
Rupert Murdoch has built a worldwide empire, including various newspapers in his native Australia (and New Zealand); tons of properties in the United Kingdom, including the London Times, The Sun and, until a devastating phone-hacking scandal, News of the World, plus BSkyB, the country’s largest pay-TV broadcaster; and a growing collection of properties in Asia. Mr. Murdoch touches virtually every American every day, particularly in New York, which the Australian has called home since the 1970s.
Mr. Murdoch, an American citizen since the mid-’80s, has committed not just his money but his time and his attention to his pet issue—the future of our educational system. “You don’t get change by plugging in computers at schools designed for the Industrial Age,” Mr. Murdoch has stated. “You get it by developing technology that rewrites the rules of the game by centering learning around the learner.” News Corp.’s acquisition of Wireless Generation, a Brooklyn educational software company, folds into Mr. Murdoch’s personal emphasis—reflected in his writings in The Wall Street Journal and his appearances at conferences—on bringing education into the technological age: “We need to tear down an education system designed for the 19th century and replace it with one suited for the 21st.”
In December 2011, he started a Twitter account and has shared consistently unexpected opinions. Rupert Murdoch just turned 82. He’s worth about $9.4 billion. Yet every single day, this guy gets up and brings a real joy to the daily fight. Every day, billions respond.