Robert Thomson, the CEO of News Corp, slammed Google, Twitter, Facebook, and Silicon Valley overall during a keynote speech at an Australian journalism awards banquet hosted by The Lowy Institute. He blasted the companies for not creating actual content and simply acting as redistribution channels. In his speech, he even called Google and its new umbrella company, Alphabet, a series of names and stated the company doesn’t value intellectual property at all. But after his tirades, Thomson added that his main concerns were about how social media would end up impacting the future of journalism, including the possibility of political correctness overtaking journalism as a whole. Considering that News Corp recently recorded a loss financially, his voiced concerns might also be related to that.
Here is what you need to know.
1. Thomson Referred to Google as a Pirate & a Zealot
Thomson made fun of Google’s new umbrella company, Alphabet. He said the A could stand for “Avarice,” the B for “Bowdlerize,” the K for “Kleptocracy,” the P for “Piracy,” and the Z for “Zealotry.” He said the words “intellectual property” don’t appear in Google’s alphabet at all. Google executives, including new CEO Sundar Pichai, have not responded to his comments.
2. He Slammed Twitter & Facebook for Not Creating Content
Thomson called out social media companies like Twitter and Facebook for never actually creating content, just curating it. He said they also have no intention of paying for content, but simply redistribute it, which is unnatural, according to The Wrap:
…they would argue that such redistribution is a natural extension of their role as social networks. I would argue that much of the redistribution is an unnatural act.
Why exactly Thomson believes curating content is “unnatural” is not clear.
3. He Called LinkedIn ‘Spammers’
Thomson also referred to many people on LinkedIn as “spammers,” The Wrap reported. He said that news organizations which cozy up to LinkedIn too much are guilty of being too techno trendy. In addition, people who tweak their resumes on LinkedIn several times a week are probably not worth hiring. LinkedIn, he said in his speech, is simply “spam central.” Some of his statements about LinkedIn were a bit confusing, and executives from the company have not responded to his statements.
4. He Expressed Concerns About the Future of Journalism
Thomson didn’t just spend his speech slamming social media companies for not creating content. He also expressed concerns about the future of journalism.
Thomson worried that professional journalists were quickly becoming an endangered species. He expressed especially strong worry about political correctness taking over the media through Silicon Valley’s influence:
Silicon Valley is moving from the PC to being a purveyor of the PC… The stream of content is often a flow of soft-left sensibility, a stream of content consciousness in which genuine debate is in danger of drowning and alternative views rarely surface.
You can listen to the speech or read the transcript of his speech at the Lowy Institute’s website here.
5. Thomson Is a Millionaire, But News Corp Is Losing Money
Before serving as CEO of News Corp, Thomas was the editor-in-chief at Dow Jones, the managing editor of The Wall Street Journal, and editor of The Times, The Wrap reported. He was also a correspondent in Tokyo and Beijing. He’s a multi-millionaire, earning millions from his work at News Corp alone. According to an article published by The Guardian, his combination of bonuses, shares, and salary topped $4 million. This included an annual base salary of $2 million when he first started as CEO in 2012, an annual performance-based target of $2 million, and performance-based shares every three years starting in 2014.
News Corp, meanwhile, is losing money, which might account for some of Thomson’s statements. It recently recorded a $149 million net loss, ABC.net reported. Much of its loss was attributed to its digital education business, Amplify. Thomson told The Wall Street Journal that News Corp is in negotiations with a company interested in acquiring Amplify. Whether Thomson’s statements bashing online media are related to his own company’s loss this past year is not known, but certainly a possibility.