In this success story, we will share the biography of Rupert Murdoch, an Australian-American business magnate. In 1952, Murdoch inherited the position of managing director of Australia’s News Limited from his father, Sir Keith Arthur Murdoch. He is the Founder, Executive Chairman of News Corp, and Executive Co-Chairman of 21st Century Fox. Murdoch owns more than 30 newspapers in the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom, among which there are such famous brands as the New York Post (acquired in 1976), The Times (1981), The Sunday Times, and The Daily Telegraph (1972). His other assets include HarperCollins (1989), Mushroom Records (1999) record label, and Dow Jones information services. The complete list of assets is available at NewsCorp.com. By 2000, his company, News Corporation, possessed over 800 companies in more than 50 countries with a net worth of $5 billion. Mr. Murdoch always strives for domination in any sphere of business he enters, and he controls his every enterprise. The distinctive personality traits of Rupert Murdoch are an adventurous spirit, aggressiveness, passion, and directive, supportive & charismatic leadership behaviors.
Murdoch was born Keith Rupert Murdoch, AC, KCSG, on March 11, 1931. He was born on a Cruden farm about 30 miles south of Melbourne, Australia, the first son and second child of Sir Keith Murdoch (1885 -1952) and Elisabeth Joy Greene (1909 – 2012), daughter of Rupert Greene. Helen, Rupert’s older sister, was two years his senior. She and Rupert were as close as with none of their younger sisters – Anne, born in 1935, and Janet, born in 1939.
Rupert’s father, Keith Murdoch, was a well-known war correspondent who, after World War I, managed to build a successful career. He became Executive Director of Herald and Weekly Times Group, one of Australia’s major publishing companies. He also owned three local newspapers. From his early childhood, Sir Keith Arthur Murdoch tried to cultivate in his little son Keith the feeling of love for the profession, which he was genuinely proud of. And he was pretty successful at his attempt – journalism captivated Keith Rupert Murdoch, who later confessed that since his young age, he could never imagine his life in any other way.
Named after his father and maternal grandfather, later in life, Keith Rupert chose to use the name of the latter. His grandfather, Rupert Greene, was notorious for his laziness, heavy drinking, gambling, and a long list of women. Many people believed that he had had the most considerable (and the worst) influence on his grandson. For instance, Mr. Greene egged little Rupert on to drive his car when the boy could hardly reach the pedals. He was always integral to other mischief and pranks that filled his little grandson and granddaughters with raptures.
Rupert demonstrated a commercial streak in his early teens. He caught rabbits and sold their fur. He even managed to sell horse dung to elderly farmers. Besides, from an early age, he fell in love with risk-taking – he used to ride his bicycle to Melbourne after school to stake on another horse at another race.
Rupert’s father had doubts about his son’s skills and abilities, and in addition to journalism, he taught Rupert about discipline. Rupert was sent to a school with a primary military education at seven.
Another person who may have had the most significant impact on Rupert Murdoch was his mother, Elisabeth Joy Greene, who is claimed to have developed his sense of independence. She insisted that during summer holidays, Rupert slept outside in a tree hut built three meters above the ground without any electricity or running water. That was supposed to make a boy healthier and tempered. Although Rupert never agreed that those methods had worked, he grew up to be independent, self-reliant, and capable of overcoming unfortunate circumstances. Self-determination and courage helped Rupert Murdoch become a successful tycoon. And who knows what his biography would have been had it not been for his parents’ harsh upbringing.
At ten, Rupert’s parents sent him to Geelong Grammar School, Australia’s elite boarding school. The boy hated the school with all his heart, but his mother stood her ground, hoping that the school would teach Rupert Murdoch to communicate with people and make him less selfish.
Rupert Murdoch attened Geelong Grammar School, anglican co-educational boarding school.
Rupert Murdoch was editor of the student journal If Revived and co-editor of the school’s official journal, The Corian. In 1948, Murdoch finished school and worked part-time at his father’s Melbourne Herald. Later, his father encouraged him to continue running the family business. In 1950, he went to the City of Oxford to study politics, economics, and philosophy at Worcester College, University of Oxford. Rupert broke loose there, having had a first gulp of absolute freedom. He, later a staunch defender of free market economy, as a student, was an overt admirer of socialism. He even had a Lenin bust sitting with honors in his room (much later, Rupert Murdoch said that Lenin was the second most important person in his life after his father). Rupert gambled the money away at card games and issued a secret newspaper.
In student years, Rupert Murdoch was a bully, a wealthy man, and a communist, thus combining the qualities not appealing to the conservative British. He tried to join the Cricket Club and failed – he was refused the membership. His closest friend at that time, Rohan Rivett, also his father’s friend, wrote of Rupert in one of his letters to Sir Keith Murdoch, “I am inclined to prophesy that he will make his first million with fantastic ease.” Nonetheless, Murdoch Junior could not boast of outstanding academic skills or achievements. The university newspaper, Cherwell, once described him as “Rupert Murdoch, cataclysmic chauffeur from the outback … he is known as a brilliant betting man with that individual ‘Billingsgate’ touch.” In any event, in 1953, Murdoch finally passed graduation exams and got his Master of Arts degree.
Rupert Murdoch studied study politics, economics, and philosophy at Worcester College, Oxford. In 1953, he completed his Master of Arts degree.
The Inheritance of Family Business
In 1952, not long before the end of Rupert’s studies in England, his father died from a heart attack. Although Sir Keith was in charge of one of the largest newspaper corporations in Australia, he did not have many shares of his own. Besides, much of the family’s funds were spent on paying the debts and death duties. Ultimately, the family inherited two run-down newspapers in Adelaide, The Adelaide News and The Sunday Mail, and a radio station in the distant town of Broken Hill. Rupert decided to continue his family business, News Limited, and for that, he needed to get some experience in the media industry. Luckily, his father’s old friend, a newspaper proprietor Lord Beaverbrook, offered him a place as sub-editor at his London paper, Daily Express.
In September 1953, Rupert Murdoch returned to Adelaide to take charge of his heritage. He became the chief editor of The Sunday Mail and The News, which were close to bankruptcy due to their low circulation figure of just 75,000 copies. Murdoch’s appearance immediately stirred up the quiet life of Australia’s province. He actively participated in the work of each department, and by age 22, he had gained a reputation as a “boy publisher.” His fantastic energy seemed to be contagious as all of a sudden, all the people around him were working faster and harder, trying not to fall behind this whirlwind kind of a person.
In the early 1960s, another Adelaide newspaper which belonged to Australia’s most prominent media family, the Peckers, for whom Rupert’s father had once worked, wanted to drive The Adelaide News out of business and run the “boy publisher” out of town. However, each Peckers’ action faced a twice as vital counter-action by Murdoch. Having initially wanted to make Rupert sell his newspaper and leave the business, Sir Frank Packer, in the end, had to give in to his energy and enthusiasm and agreed to the merger of their companies, leaving the “boy publisher” in charge.
Activities in Australia and New Zealand
Murdoch’s first attempt to expand his business occurred in 1956 when he acquired Melbourne weekly magazine New Idea. Having wholly changed the magazine’s financial situation, he bought Perth’s troubled The Sunday Times. This purchase caused lots of disagreement among the board of directors of Adelaide News because Perth was located more than 1,400 miles away from Adelaide, which made managing the newspaper much more complicated. Murdoch was determined to prove the board of directors wrong. He went to Perth and raised the almost-broke newspaper from rags to riches. In Perth, he first became known as the publisher of sensations. “Circulation at any cost” became his motto. Sensational blood-freezing headlines, such as “Leper Rapes Virgin, Gives Birth To Monster Baby!” became usual for Murdoch’s newspapers. His strategy worked, and, as if by magic, the newspaper’s popularity soared, and it took a leading position in the market. Murdoch began to buy other small newspapers in towns all around Australia.
After correcting his goals, Murdoch became obsessed with a sensational invention in the entertainment world – television – reaching Australia in the middle of the 1950s. He foresaw that the new technology would become an accomplished fact in mass media. The first Adelaide TV station started functioning in 1957, and Murdoch decided to buy one channel. He bid successfully for a license for Adelaide Channel 9 and went to the United States to study the internal mechanisms of the branch and buy a packet of programs for his new station. Murdoch’s first stop was in Las Vegas, where he once and forever fell in love with American culture and the Strip Street.
Murdoch’s first mentor in the television business was Leonard H. Goldenson, a television pioneer, founder, and chairman of American Broadcasting Company, Inc. Goldenson had just made a deal with Disney and acquired the reputation of a magician in the TV world. The two venturesome entrepreneurs quickly found common ground and built many businesses together. Murdoch sold Goldenson 6% of his News Corporation in exchange for broadcasting ABC’s programs in Australia and long-term cooperation in program supply to the Australian market.
Leonard H. Goldenson, the founder and chairman of ABC Inc., was the first Rupert Murdoch’s mentor in the television industry.
Murdoch returned to Australia inspired by the new thrilling perspectives television gave him. He was planning to create an Australian version of “TV Guide.” In September 1959, he issued that magazine and its publication coincided with the beginning of Channel 9 broadcasting. The TV channel immediately became successful and brought enough money for the restless and impulsive Rupert Murdoch to expand his empire at a steady speed.
Murdoch’s expansion in the Australian market continued. In 1960, he purchased Sidney’s tabloid, The Daily Mirror, which he transformed in the manner that later became his calling card. The Daily Mirror became a mixture of criminal chronicles and erotic publications, which became highly and immediately popular among the readers. On July 14, 1964, Murdoch founded and released the first in Australia nation-wide newspaper – The Australian, the circulation of which went to 75,000 issues in 1972.
In 1960, Rupert Murdoch purchased Sidney’s tabloid The Daily Mirror.
Rupert Murdoch’s success story rapidly developed, and his business, covering newspapers, magazines, and TV channels, went national in Australia. In 1972, he acquired the Daily News and the Sunday Telegraph. They belonged to the Parker family, an Australian media mogul. By the mid-1970s, Murdoch’s mass media became a decisive force in the Australian market and a powerful tool of conservative political agitation.
Activities in the United Kingdom
In 1968, Murdoch purchased the News of the World from the Carr family. One of his friends from college, Stephen Catto, called him one day and asked if Rupert would be interested in buying the most popular lucrative newspaper in Britain, the News of the World. Londoners themselves called this newspaper News of the Screws or Screws of the World because, despite its venerable age, this periodical was the dirtiest one in Britain. In 1969, News of the World became the property of Rupert Murdoch and his first foothold in the outer non-Australian world. On July 10, 2011, the News of the World ceased publication after 168 years in print due to the phone-hacking scandal, when editors of the News of the World newspaper were accused of hacking and exercising improper actions in the chase of stories.
Robert Maxwell, a book publisher and Member of Parliament was eager to buy The Sun to increase his presence on Fleet Street. He assured IPC (International Publishing Corporation) that he would publish “honest news”; therefore, the paper would continue to support the Labour Party. However, the IPC declined Maxwell’s proposal. In 1969, Murdoch purchased a dilapidated London newspaper, The Sun (formerly called Daily Herald), for £800,000.
This newspaper was subjected to severe transformation at Murdoch’s possession, having become one of the brightest examples of Murdoch’s market penetration. When he purchased it, The Sun was mainly aimed at the supporters of the Labour Party and demonstrated pretensions to intellectuality. Having become Murdoch’s property, the newspaper became a mass tabloid with the standard “yellow” press content: sex, sports, and sensations. Moreover, encouraged by the rapidly growing popular taste for erotica, The Sun went beyond its competitors, starting to print pictures of topless models on the third page. Murdoch’s next purchase after The Sun was Sydney’s tabloid newspaper, The Daily Telegraph, which he bought from Frank Packer in 1972.
In 1981, Murdoch bought a British company, Times Newspapers, which issued The Times and The Sunday Times. At the end of the 1980s and the beginning of the 1990s, Murdoch started his conquest of the British television market. In 1989, Murdoch’s satellite company Sky Television was launched in Great Britain.
Activities in the United States
Next year, the Australian entrepreneur made his first step into the USA’s market. In 1973, Murdoch acquired two daily newspapers from Harte Hanks for $19 million in San Antonio, Texas, USA – San Antonio Express and San Antonio Evening News, later merged under the name San Antonio Express-News. Also, in the 1970s, Murdoch bought The New York Post for $12 million after he bought the New York Magazine, the Country Voice, and the New West.
By 1977, the central part of Murdoch’s empire was represented by the company Cruden Investments, named after the Scottish church congregation of his grandfather. Cruden, jointly owned by Rupert himself, his mother, and his three sisters, controlled 40 percent of the shares of News Ltd, which in turn regulated the work of all the enterprises in Australia. News Ltd owned 48 percent of News International Ltd, controlling British business. News International Ltd and News Ltd combined held 100 percent of Murdoch’s assets in the USA. In 1979, all the companies were consolidated into the worldwide News Corporation, with Rupert Murdoch becoming the General Director and a board of directors member. Later, in 1991, he also became the chairman of the board of directors.Our reputation is more important than the last hundred million dollars. – Rupert Murdoch Click To Tweet
In the 1980s, Murdoch decided to enter the US television market. Since American laws forbade foreigners from owning local TV channels, in 1985, an Australian entrepreneur received American citizenship. After that, he purchased regional TV channels, later consolidated into the US fourth national TV network – Fox Broadcasting. In 1985, Murdoch also acquired the 20th Century Fox Film Corporation.
In 1982, Mr. Murdoch acquired The Herald American from Hearst Corporation, saving it from being closed. At that time, The Herald American faced declines in advertising and circulation—later to the Boston Herald. In 1984, Rupert Murdoch purchased the Chicago Sun-Times from Field Enterprises, and the paper’s writing style became similar to the New York Post. On May 01, 2007, Murdoch’s News Corporation released a statement confirming the acquisition of Dow Jones & Co. by biding on $60 per share, or $5 billion. On August 01, 2007, News Corporation completed the acquisition of Dow Jones & Co.
Murdoch’s mass media started to play a significant role in politics. In July 2007, in the interview with Ken Auletta, answering a question about what gave him the most pleasure of all his empire, Murdoch confessed, “being involved with the editor of a paper in a day-to-day campaign … trying to influence people.” In the 1970s, due to his influence, the Conservative Party lost the elections in Australia. Murdoch supported the leader of the Labor Party, Gough Whitlam. After Whitlam’s victory, Murdoch said he had played a “substantial part” in Labor’s 1972 election victory. However, he quickly lost his enthusiasm for Whitlam and is believed to have confidentially instructed his Australian editors to “kill Whitlam,” which, coincidentally or not, resulted in the dismissal of Whitlam from his position of Prime Minister and political crush of the Labor Party.
Murdoch’s mass media in Great Britain actively supported Conservative prime ministers Margaret Thatcher and John Major, and later a new labourist, Tony Blair. In the USA, since the times of President Ronal Reagan, the propaganda for the Republicans has mainly been carried out. As critics believed, the political views of the press and TV channels that belonged to Murdoch were not dictated by his appeals but were only determined by the interests of a business game in this or that country; thus, after the loss of Republicans in the US midterm elections of 2006 News Corporation has notably increased its subsidies to the needs of the Democratic Party.When I hear something going wrong, I insist on it being put right. – Rupert Murdoch Click To Tweet
Murdoch regularly has lunches with presidents and monarchs. His power and influence have become equally monumental and universally impedimental to further expanding his empire. The governments and corporations are slightly scared by Murdoch’s impact on legislation processes and election results. Indeed, his power is frightening, considering that over thirty thousand people are employed at News Corporation, which issues over sixty million copies of newspapers weekly. Murdoch’s newspapers make up 70% of all Australian press and 33% of the British one, and Fox TV is broadcast in more than 90 million homes worldwide. Moreover, News Corporations’ daughter companies – Harper & Row and Zondervan – are English’s most prominent publishers of Bibles.
Murdoch’s competitor in the sphere of forming public opinion, Ted Turner, has once called Murdoch the most dangerous person on the planet, and such a high concentration of so many means of media in one – Murdoch’s – hands – a challenge to the modern world.
On June 28, 2012, News Corporation’s assets were split into two publicly traded companies, one targeted towards media and the other towards publishing. On June 28, 2013, the split officially took place. News Corp. was renamed to 21st Century Fox and now consists mainly of media outlets, while new News Corp was organized to take on the publishing and Australian broadcasting assets.
In November 2014, News Corp invested $30 million in real estate site ProTiger in November 2014. Next month, they acquired a financial planning website, BigDecisions.com. In March 2015, News Corp invested in the Indian media company VCCircle. On July 25, 2014, 21st Century Fox informed about the sale of Sky Italia and Sky Deutschland to BSkyB for $9 billion.
Personal and Family Life
Rupert Murdoch’s biography contains love stories, although he cannot be called a womanizer. In 1956, Murdoch met a lovely blonde flight attendant, Patricia Booker, with whom he madly fell in love. Even though the most significant part of their honeymoon Murdoch spent inspecting his new business purchases. In 1958, the couple had their only child, Prudence (b. 1958). Nevertheless, family commitments could never distract Rupert from work. Rupert and Patricia were married for 11 years and divorced in 1967.
In 1962, a 30-year-old media mogul met a young journalist, Anna Maria Torv (Tõrv), who came to interview him for one of his Sydney newspapers. His energy and charisma smote Anna. Their meeting coincided with Murdoch’s divorce, and nothing seemed to hinder their happiness. Nevertheless, Rupert and Anna got married only in 1967. It is said that such a delay may have been caused by Anna’s strict Catholic beliefs inherited from her mother, Sylvia Braida, a Scottish dry cleaner. Anna’s father, Jacob Tõrv, was an Estonian-born merchant seaman earning a living by cleaning a store. When Anna turned nine, her family moved to Australia to pursue a happier and better life.
They were married for 31 years, and on the outside, their marriage looked like a perfect dream. Anna stopped her journalistic career, firmly believing that no good can result from a family where both husband and wife work their fingers to the bone. As a result, Anna Murdoch and Rupert Murdoch had three children: Elisabeth Murdoch, who was born in Sydney, Australia, on August 22, 1968; Lachlan Murdoch, who was born in London, UK, on September 08, 1971; and James Murdoch who was born in London on December 13, 1972. Rupert would have always been a perfect husband and father had it not been for a tiny thing – passion for constant hard work.
Nonetheless, Anna knew what she was buying. The newlyweds spent their honeymoon in New York, where sightseeing and Rupert’s business meetings took turns. Once, Anna managed to talk her husband into going to opera. However, it was entirely obvious how little Rupert cared about any art except television and the art of signing contracts and making money. Anna silently resigned herself to the lifestyle dictated by her husband’s business ventures. Without any complaint, she changed her living places – Sydney, London, New York. When Murdoch needed to acquire American citizenship to buy a television channel, he bought a house in Los Angeles, and all his family became American.
Keeping in mind that once Murdoch was fond of navigation, Anna talked him into buying a 158-foot yacht, Morning Glory, built by Perini Navi Group and launched in 1993. This plan aimed to distract Rupert from his business routine, at least occasionally. The maximum term that Murdoch spent on board his yacht was three days, with the majority of time devoted to telephone communication instead of fishing and yachting.
When Anna and Rupert broke up in 1999, everyone wondered how come! Was it because Anna’s patience had finally given way? On the other hand, maybe the reason lay in Anna’s decision to become a businesswoman (after the 1990 financial crisis hit Murdoch’s company, Anna became a member of the Board of Directors of News Corporation).
However, everything turned out to be much simpler. Murdoch was having an affair with a 31-year-old Chinese-born Wendi Deng. A former model and a recent Yale graduate, Ms. Deng was an intern at one of Murdoch’s affiliated companies in Hong Kong. Nevertheless, it was not Rupert Murdoch who decided to file for a divorce, but his wife, who informed Rupert about her intentions. Anna was suspicious that Murdoch had a girlfriend. In 1999, Torv and Murdoch got separated. The divorce cost him a reported $1.7 billion.
At the end of July 1999, 17 days after Torv and Murdoch’s divorce was finalized, Rupert Murdoch and Wendi Deng married on board the Morning Glory yacht, bought on Anna Torv’s initiative. The Morning Glory yacht moored in New York harbor. At dawn, the yacht plied past the Statue of Liberty and took the course to the Atlantics. Six months later, Anna Torv married William Mann, a financier.
The third marriage prompted Murdoch to move from the Pacific coast to the Atlantics. The newlyweds settled down in a cozy apartment in New York’s Soho. Murdoch seemed to have been head over the hill in love with his young wife; he was constantly in a romantic mood, and his employees even started worrying when their boss came to work without a tie or in a wrinkled shirt. However, even being so dreamy, Murdoch never made any mistakes and did not lose a single penny or a business opportunity. Soon, everything fell back into place.
Moreover, Wendi soon became not only Murdoch’s pretty half but also involved in work performing duties of an unofficial consultant of James Murdoch in Hong Kong.
However, soon, a fly got to the ointment, and the couple’s happiness was saddened by Rupert Murdoch’s “low grade” prostate cancer, luckily discovered at its initial stage. The doctors gave Murdoch the most optimistic forecast, indicating that he only needs to change his daily routine a little.
Mr. Murdoch’s spokesman reported the doctors had taken Murdoch’s case very seriously. He went through a radiotherapy course. In the morning, he was ordered to drink ice-cold fruit juice with some soy powder added. After that, he was to go to the gym where, for about an hour, he was “tortured” by experienced coaches.There's always a way to improve. – Rupert Murdoch Click To Tweet
The wild events of his life – divorce and new marriage with all the inherent nervous breakdowns – had their toll on the senior man’s body. However, Murdoch had no regrets. He claimed that he had finally understood happiness and could only perceive absolute family harmony with his new young wife.
Wendi Deng, in turn, got to making her contribution to the enlargement of the Murdoch family. On November 19, 2001, she had a baby girl, Grace Helen, born in New York, and on July 17, 2003, she gave birth to Chloe, born in New York. In September 2011, it was disclosed that Tony Blair is Grace’s godfather.
On June 13, 2013, Rupert Murdoch filed for divorce from Wendi Deng at the New York State Supreme Court. According to his spokesperson, their marriage “irretrievably broken down.”
In the rating of the 400 richest people in America, published by Forbes magazine in 2015, Rupert Murdoch took 38th place with a net worth of $11.6 billion. As of October 2023, his net worth is $17.3 billion.
Secret of Success
Rupert Murdoch has reached the top of success because he has always been in a hurry. Due to his impatience and decisions, primarily logical but often taken on the grounds of a simple feeling, he has built his empire over a very short time. Murdoch’s biographer, William Shawcross, explains such success by Murdoch’s ability to devote himself wholly and entirely to any activity, whether it is his work or a simple game of tennis. Murdoch’s constant struggle for growth, development, and improvement, as a restless search for new peaks and horizons, made him who he is today – a wealthy and powerful almighty master of the press, television, and other media.Content is everything. – Rupert Murdoch Click To Tweet
Rupert Murdoch is a business magnate and talented entrepreneur whose company controls more than 800 media companies. Rupert Murdoch’s life story shows his success was thanks to his persistence, hard work, and quick accumulation of assets in Australia, the UK, and the US markets. We hope you have enjoyed exploring Rupert Murdoch’s biography and success story of News Corp.
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