Lord and his ring


Attention media reporters: Rupert Murdoch, probably the most important man on your beat, has lost his wedding ring. Last seen in the Sun Valley Lodge lobby.

Murdoch stumbled out of the Lodge bar on Thursday around midnight, where a ridiculously high-powered assemblage of media and tech moguls got sloshed. Instead of making a bee-line for the exit as most of the guests were doing, Murdoch, married to third wife Wendi Deng, was spotted hunting around the lobby. He told us he had lost his wedding ring.

So began a frantic 15-minute scramble among reporters hungry to please the mogul (me included), hoping to recover the ring and land an exclusive interview. No such luck. Still missing.

(Photo: Reuters)

Murdoch in Sun Valley: No deals

murdoch.jpgConsummate dealmaker Rupert Murdoch, Chairman and Chief Executive of News Corp, strolled into the Sun Valley Inn for the first full day of Allen & Co’s annual mogul retreat.

Asked by CNBC reporter Julia Boorstin whether he was buying anything, he shot back, “Not today. Not this week.”

That might provide some small comfort for shareholders who have sent shares of News Corp sinking close to 30 percent since the beginning of the year on a variety of issues, including a sluggish economy and threats of an advertising recession. Shareholders also craw about the dreaded “Murdoch Discount” — investor concern the media tycoon will suddenly make another a big purchase.

Moguls roll into Sun Valley

Media moguls — well really, tycoons of all kinds — trickled into the Sun Valley Lodge on Tuesday for Allen & Co’s annual pow wow in Sun Valley. Or, in the case of Rupert Murdoch, he drove a white Toyota SR5.

Here are some mugshots:

Rupert Murdoch

     Lachlan Murdoch     Bob Iger

Howard Stringer

     Gordon Crawford     Henry Vigil, Microsoft stategy chief
No wonder the swans got scared.

(Photos: Reuters)


Brauchli’s unfinished News Corp business

Marcus Brauchli could have looked forward to a pleasant summer vacation before digging into his new job in September as The Washington Post’s new executive editor, but instead he will punch the clock like the rest of us.

In an interview with Reuters on Tuesday, the former Wall Street Journal managing editor said he plans to wrap up his consulting work with News Corp on a project in Asia. We don’t know the details, but it was part of an agreement tied to his resignation from the Journal after News Corp chief Rupert Murdoch let him know that his services at the paper would no longer be needed.

“It’s very interesting and productive,” was all Brauchli would say about it.

Murdoch’s big test

In what’s probably the strangest session out of any business conference we’ve ever witnessed, genomics company 23andMe decided to test the world’s most famous media mogul’s DNA through its service after a short q&a and here’s what they discovered about Rupert Murdoch:

    He likes milk. He has lots of cavities. Murdoch doesn’t think his urine smells after eating asparagus (he doesn’t like it). “I don’t notice it … I haven’t thought about it.” Murdoch would be a great sprinter. He’s a morning person. He doesn’t like sweet snacks. He doesn’t sneeze when he’s in sunlight.

Now if only founders Linda Avey and Anne Wojicicki can come up with a test for a mogul’s next big acquisition.

(Video: All Things D)

Murdoch kills Newsday bid

murdoch-frowns.jpgWhen Rupert Murdoch said the other day that he wasn’t investing in newspapers anymore, we assumed that he was being ironic, especially as it came in the same telephone conference call with News Corp analysts and reporters in which he said that he thought his agreement to buy Newsday from Tribune Co was all but sewn up .

That goes to show you what they say about assuming things.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Saturday , and we subsequently confirmed , that News Corp isn’t going to chase Newsday after all. Instead, it’s pulling its $580 million bid, paving the way for Cablevision to likely take over its fellow Long Island media outlet. New York Daily News owner Mortimer Zuckerman is in the race still as far as we know, but it’s hard to see how Tribune will take his $580 million bid when Cablevision has a $70 million sweetener on top of that.

Why? Apparently the economics were unjustifiable. What could that mean? The short list: Tribune’s quarterly financial results, which came out late Friday, show the company continuing to lose advertising revenue at its newspapers; media ownership laws might make it tough for Murdoch to take the paper yet keep his New York-area television broadcast licenses; and finally, a bid higher than $650 million is already a higher valuation for a newspaper than most sensible financial folks see as feasible.

Murdoch: We’re not investing in newspapers!

murdoch-press.jpgFor a mogul who’s spent a lifetime snatching up newspapers across the globe — and who spent the better part of his time talking about them on Wednesday’s quarterly earnings conference call — we found it surprising that he insists he’s not spending more money on the dying print business.

Murdoch: “From day one, the financial press has been fixated on portraying this move as a change in strategic direction; the company is now focused on allocating more of its capital on print businesses. That is not our intent, nor is it factually correct. We have not changed our playbook.”

Murdoch argued that Dow Jones, the splashiest of his newspaper buys yet, is barely a newspaper publisher at all. To lay out that argument, Murdoch appears to have abandoned his earlier argument that a free Wall Street Journal online would be better than a subscription-based site.

WSJ passes the Pepper… and Salt

wall-street-journal.jpgLatest change at The Wall Street Journal in Year One of the Murdoch Era: Venerable editorial page cartoon “Pepper… and Salt” is moving to the leisure and arts page.

We’re almost surprised that a Frankenstein-style mob hasn’t already taken pitchforks and torches to the Dow Jones building. After all, it’s one of the paper’s longer-running traditions. Heck, even the editor-in-charge of the cartoon has been at it for 58 years, The New York Times reports.

The Journal would not comment on why the 58-year-old cartoon was moved last week, or what the future holds for “Pepper … and Salt” in the new Murdoch era.

WSJ’s Heard on the Street: Shrinking?

Rupert Murdoch has earned the disdain of many Wall Street Journal staffers by saying their stories often are too long , especially some of the front-page juggernauts that take their time getting started.

While the page-one woes got all the attention, it looks like he and his crew were doing some editing elsewhere in the paper as well. The Heard on the Street column, which contains all sorts of interesting analysis and tips about buzz in the financial world, seems to be nearly half its former size some days.

Friday’s feature, “Lehman Brothers Seen As Cheap Recovery Bet ” by Peter Eavis and David Reilly, measured 431 words. Compare that to the (now weirdly prescient) “A Microsoft, Yahoo Tie-Up? ” that Robert Guth and Kevin Delaney wrote for the May 3, 2006, edition, at 1,224 words.

WSJ Page One, now with 53 percent less Wall Street!

murdoch-chart-3.jpgMany Wall Street Journal watchers bemoan new owner Rupert Murdoch’s greater emphasis on political and general news coverage in the paper, but so far their evidence has been anecdotal.

Not anymore! The Project for Excellence in Journalism (PEJ) furnished numbers that give an exact percentage on the decrease in business news that gets on the front page of the nation’s most powerful business daily. Here’s an excerpt from the report:

Under the Murdoch regime, the single biggest change in front-page coverage occurred with politics and the presidential campaign. From Dec. 13, 2007 through March 13, 2008, coverage more than tripled, jumping to 18% of the newshole compared with 5% in the four months before the ownership change.