… the fourth estate?

As someone who is no stranger to the power of the printed word, I sat in amazement as this titan of the media world was slowly dragged to into a necromantic arena by the very profession he has shaped to his own personal will over the past 61-yrs. From the outlawed wilderness of Adelaide to the sprawling mega-glass skyscrapers of New York; Kings, Queens (of both kinds), Prime Ministers, Presidents and everyone in between have courted and fêted him to influence the billions that his global media empire informs for their own personal agendas.

For any of us who rely on the media to communicate our message to that select audience in the vein hope that those few lines, or even a full page profile in an influential magazine, we all trade one thing off for another.  Each printed encounter hoping to garner that little bit of interest in what we are selling, adding a patina of glossiness to a well crafted message and brand or even, in most instances, sate the desire of a chained ego slavering for respectability. We all whisper and promise in dark bars where dirty deeds are dirt cheap to fulfil a desire, because at the end of the day, we are all media-whores hoping to get a head.

So imagine my surprise when the very nature of politics is infused with sensationalist journalism the stage set for a global showdown that has been brewing for a generation or two and is billed “independent”. No one is innocent or independent in these times, especially not when the expedient messenger is now shot with his own arrow, and the sinner becomes a preacher at a public pulpit of the Lower House. We gather at the new Calgary for a public crucifixion and quartering, opinions flow from twenty-four hour news to Twitter and magazines, newspapers to Facebook and like everyone gossiping, their five-cents worth is tacked-on.

My love affair with all things Rupert Murdoch started long before I read the brilliant unauthorised autobiography by William Shawcross as I travelled the long and tedious road back from Jo’burg to the Midlands of KwaZulu-Natal in 1992 (and every subsequent book ever written about him). It started with the many books that I loved before that one on these lonely bus trips. The hours spent escaping in movie houses during the school holidays and the programmes that I watched on TV that kept me entertained when nothing else could.

He had managed to shape my world view long before I even knew who he was. Or even before I knew who I was.

There is not a moment in our generation’s history that has not in some part been influenced by this man and his global media empire. From the characture in a James Bond movie, to the effigy that stands outside the Palace of Westminster, men have come before him but none will be judged like him. From Beaverbrook to Hearst, the legacy that remains after the carcass has been stripped will be unworthy of the achievements, as profiteering and politics claim their victory for the self-indignant and righteous plebs.

A victim of his own success perhaps, but certainly not one that we can judge fairly, lest that first stone be cast on us as we walk home from Calgary on a tepid winter’s afternoon, and we suffer the same fate by our own hand.

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