Murdoch-Hater With a License to Teach Journalists

May 12th, 2007 8:06 AM

The most instructive part of the anti-Rupert Murdoch rant in today's Boston Globe is the byline: "Mitchell Zuckoff is a professor of journalism at Boston University." Yes, the author of this tirade against Fox News and its owner spends his daytime hours grooming the next generation of journalists.

The essence of Zuckoff's A robber baron in Barron's house is an invidious comparison of Clarence, the good Barron, who made the Dow Jones company great, and Rupert, the "robber baron," whose News Corp. has made a $5 billion offer to acquire the parent corporation of the Wall Street Journal, among other operations.

Thus Zuckoff contrasts "the Truth in its proper use"-- Barron's motto for the Wall Street Journal -- "with Murdoch's Fox News and New York Post, where fairness has somehow become a word drenched in irony."

Zuckoff similarly contrasts the pair's labor practices. "Barron . . . never fired or laid off a single" employee, boasts the journo prof, who continues: "contrast that with the fears of the Journal's current union, which predicted that a Murdoch takeover would mean 'gutting the enterprise and slashing the staff that make it the leading financial news organization.'"

Remember this, budding journalists: when seeking an objective appraisal of a company's labor situation, nothing beats uncritically accepting the union's take. Moreover, in a newspaper landscape of declining circulation and collapsing revenues, wouldn't it be managerial malpractice to never fire an employee? Is it better to cut some jobs to preserve others, or to keep them all only to fire them all when the paper inevitably goes belly up?

Zuckoff concludes by claiming that Murdich "fits one Barron dictum that should guide his heirs in the weeks to come: 'If you must pick a fight, pick only worthy adversaries.'"

That's right: Professor Zuckoff, molder of young journalistic minds, sees Rupert Murdoch as an adversary. Zuckoff unwittingly, ironically, makes Murdoch's point. It is the very mindset of the Zuckoffs, and the journalists they churn out, that makes operations like Fox News so necessary -- and so popular.

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