Murdoch acquires web phenomenon Myspace

When new media meets old: Rupert Murdoch adds the blog site myspace.com to his media empire after buying up its parent company, Intermix...

Visitors to the myspace.com homepage at any one time can be expected to be introduced to “cool new people” under aliases such as Flake88 and ShawnBrown4eva, encouraged to listen to a garage-funk duo from Oklahoma or be invited to a Battle of the Bands contest in New Jersey.

But Myspace.com can no longer be considered a mere bookmark in the browser of teenagers worldwide following News Corporation’s acquisition of the networking site’s parent company Intermix for half a billion dollars.

In April, News Corp chief Rupert Murdoch told the American Society of Newspaper Editors: “I believe too many of us editors and reporters are out of touch with our readers” in a speech that also outlined the need to find new ways to reach out to American citizens.

Such sentiments paved the way for the Intermix bid - the Myspace site currently has over 20 million registered members and is virtually a household name, without paying for any advertising since its introduction in 2003.

The online community site’s success can be attributed to its broad appeal.
Members range from all ages and backgrounds – from youngsters wanting to chat online, to internationally-recognised bands giving fans a portal to the latest news on their favourite artists.

How the site is used differs also: to one person Myspace may represent a worldwide online dating agency, to another it may be the means of mapping one’s family tree.

Though the typical Myspace member tends to be a casual net user who just wants their own personal patch on the internet with little jargon and most importantly, they want it all for free.

However, the ability to instantly connect with thousands worldwide has not been fully embraced by all.

A number of parent groups have spoken of the dangers of such websites, where paedophiles can browse anonymously through member profiles, urging parents to carefully monitor their children’s internet use.

Musicians from all over the world are among the earliest to realise Myspace’s global potential.

Through sites like Myspace, bands are no longer confined to getting their songs heard only as far as the petrol money for their van will stretch to with local bands suddenly facing the possibility of becoming cult hits in remote parts of the world.

News Corp’s new addition to an already wide-ranging portfolio is the clearest sign yet that the media industry sees the future in so-called new media – whether it be through broadband internet, mobile phones and other digital-age enterprises that threaten the future of traditional routes of television, print journalism and radio.