Saturday, September 27, 2008

HEAD FOR THE HILLS!!!! (See story on page B18)

Rupert Murdoch, who paid my wages from 1987-1994, has one thing in common with his former employee. We both like big banner headlines. It's a tabloid thing. There's something about a catchy headline that, well, catches us.

The thing is, I read newspapers. Murdoch owns 'em. Most especially, he owns the "Wall Street Journal." There has been a lot of big news in finance recently, and I have noticed that under Murdoch, the Journal has featured a big banner headline every day of the alleged "crisis." This almost never happened under the previous fuddy-duddy ownership team.

I hate to disagree with a mogul, but I think Mr. Murdoch may be a making a mistake here. The "Journal" isn't any old paper. It reports on money-a subject people take to heart like no other.

Put it this way. Most big banner headlines in general-interest newspapers are, of course, bad news. But sometimes they're not. "MAN WALKS ON MOON." "HOME TEAM WINS SUPER BOWL." The reader can go out to the end of his driveway, spy the big type, and not be quite sure the story is about a catastrophe.

A banner headline in the Journal is NEVER good. There just isn't ever gonna be a financial story whose headline is "EVERYONE'S RICH, INCLUDING YOU!" Big screaming type on the front page of this particular newspaper creates no reaction but stark fear.

Considering the amount of money the average Journal subscriber has, and their median age, which I'm guessing is in the late 40s-early 50s range, Murdoch's penchant for big banner headlines might just infarct and aneurize its way to a substantial loss in the newspaper's circulation base.


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