Yesterday’s Australian press reported that, Dick Smith, the country’s former electronics magnate, has called on Rupert Murdoch to return to the land of his birth and guide it “through the confusing age of climate change”. Smith’s point may have been tongue-in-cheek, but the thought occurs: why limit the request to Australia, when Murdoch owns media outlets the world over?
Just as all his titles supported the war in Iraq, they could now join forces with his numerous broadcasting outlets and, this time, be a force for good. Under the guidance of the leading world environmental authorities, News Corporation has the potential to develop and implement a comprehensive programme to inform, educate and campaign on this issue so essential to the future of mankind.
Is this an absurd notion? We think not. Last week at the e-G8 digital forum in Paris, Murdoch spoke again on the need for massive investment in education and “unlocking the potential” of the world’s children. True, he has bought into education technology in the US and sees a huge market here but, as has been pointed out even by his critics, there may be more to it. When rich and powerful figures reach the end of their careers, it’s not unusual for them to focus on an altruistic legacy. And Murdoch, being a curious mixture of the prude and the power-hungry smut merchant, does have it in him.
Of course, profit is at the heart of his empire’s existence, and an article on sustainable energy is not as juicy as revelations of a footballer’s sex life. It won’t sell newspapers, not on its own. But Murdoch and his staff are inventive enough to find ways and means.
Yes, we desperately want to see his empire broken up and its influence diminished, but it ain’t going to happen overnight. And, yes, we abhor the prospect of Murdoch elevating himself and his heirs to the status of saviours of the planet. But, for the immediate future, a concerted, expert-led, News Corporation campaign on climate change – aimed at governments, industry and consumers – could be a force for immeasurable good.