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Old media mogul Murdoch buys into new media again

Posting in Technology
Sometimes you see a picture or video on Twitter, YouTube or Facebook and you're just not sure whether to trust it. What if there was a company out there that specialized in verifying the accuracy of these things? For an innovative business model, couldn't that company then provide those visuals to  traditional global media outlets, who could publish them with confidence?

That's what a five-year-old Irish startup called Storyful does. It sells verified content to the likes of the New York Times, the BBC, the Wall Street Journal and Al Jazeera, calling itself "the world's first social news agency."

Media mogul Rupert Murdoch liked the idea so much that he bought the company.

The octogenarian boss of News Corp., the Wall Street Journal, the New York Post,  Fox News,  21st Century Fox and the U.K.'s Sun and Times newspapers picked up Dublin-based Storyful for $25 million. The Guardian reported:

"Storyful has become the village square for valuable video, using journalistic sensibility, integrity and creativity to find, authenticate and commercialise user-generated content," said Robert Thomson, News Corp chief executive. "Through this acquisition, we can extend the village square across borders, languages and platforms."

Murdoch has had a checkered record in new media. He incurred a big loss on MySpace, the wudda-been cudda-been social media company that lost out to rivals like Facebook, when he sold it for $35 million in 2011 after acquiring it for $580 million in 2005. 

As Wired notes, traditional media in general has often struggled with its new media acquisitions, such as Time Warner's infamous $160 billion acquisition of AOL in 2000. It's been nearly 14 years since that one. I think the old guys are a little wiser about how to make it all work. Murdoch's pickup of Storyful looks like a decent bet, although Storyful, as part of the Murdoch stable, could now find it tricky selling to non-Murdoch horses.

If only there was a way to verify it will succeed. 

Cover photo is from Eva Rinaldi via Wikimedia


— By on December 23, 2013, 4:58 AM PST

Mark Halper

Contributing Editor

Mark Halper has written for TIME, Fortune, Financial Times, the UK's Independent on Sunday, Forbes, New York Times, Wired, Variety and The Guardian. He is based in Bristol, U.K. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure