Eighty one year old Australian media mogul Rupert Murdoch is in talks to purchase the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times. Murdoch owns News Corporation that has Sky TV, The Wall Street Journal, and Fox News among others under its media umbrella.
The purchase of the Tribune and the LA Times would insert Murdoch into the important Chicago and California media markets, a year after the image of his European prospects have taken quite a hit. The deal is far from over, but Murdoch's reputation will surely illicit attention to even a whisper of a deal.
Murdoch is the sort of old-timey media baron the public loves to hate and fear almost as much as it loves to watch and listen to. The debt-laden Tribune and LA Times could certainly benefit from a Murdoch stewardship considering the awkward growing pains print media is going through in the digital age. Murdoch brings attention and cash to such an enterprise.
There are of course partisan fears. Murdoch is vilified by liberals considering his ownership of partisan Fox News. However, these days, media outfits are partisan in an effort to gain viewers. A bipartisan moderate media is something of a pipe dream in an era where the internet makes the echo chamber cheaper, more efficient, and more profitable. It seems shallow to worry about Murdoch's political affiliations when without him a medium could very well die.
Of course, even if Rupert does purchase the news outlets it doesn't mean people will read them. News is free and online. Respectable outlets like the New York Times and Murdoch's own Wall Street Journal have erected pay walls but that doesn't mean pay walls are a viable alternative for all papers. People are willing to pay for the best, and in the internet age the Tribune and LA Times would be competing with Murdoch's own Wall Street Journal. With news becoming ubiquitous and free we are more often paying for a voice more so than the news. Considering that it seems more important who ends up writing for these papers than who owns them.