Hats off to Mr Murdoch


Much cynicism greeted the Wall Street Journal's decision last month to begin a sports section. But the cynics were wrong. In a time of dramatic social and cultural upheaval in America, professional sports offers a valuable way for serious journalists to write about the human consequences of all this change. For example, today's piece about the demise of a baseball's independent press corps reveals how one of America's most vaunted icons -- the professional baseball journalist (seem above in Yankee Stadium on Sept 2, 1962) -- is "fading". While yesterday's wistful piece by James Tobin about the Larry Bird Magic Johnson rivalry written in the context of the deindustrialization of the Midwest represents American sports journalism at its finest.

What unites these two pieces is a sadness about the rapidly disintegrating world of local sports stars and sports journalists. The postindustrial crisis of the American Midwest and the digital crisis of newspapers are both direct casualties of capitalism's creative destruction. But what, I wonder, would Schumpeter make of Rupert Murdoch, historically one of 20th century capitalism's most destructive hoodlums, who last year sunk serious capital ($5 billion) into a print newspaper as archaic as The Wall Street Journal. I'm no great fan of News Corp, but this morning my hat is off to Mr Murdoch for taking on the Sisyphean task of maintaining the relevance of the Wall Street Journal in the digital age. Kudos also to Murdoch for squaring up to Google last week. For all his historical sins, the destructive old warrior is finally doing some creative good.