x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Get me rewrite!

What does it tell us when a newspaper baron opens a Twitter account? And what does it mean when his wife begins censoring his tweets?

When even the world's best-known newspaper tycoon takes to Twitter, you know times are changing. But when his wife calls him to order for a mis-tweet, you get the reassuring sense that some things will never change.

Rupert Murdoch, at 80, launched his Twitter account on New Year's Day. One early post grumbled that "Maybe Brits have too many holidays for [a] broke country!" You can imagine the reaction of Britain's labour force, especially since Mr Murdoch was tweeting from his estate on the elite Caribbean paradise of St Kitts.

Newspapers everywhere are moving rapidly online (haven't you bookmarked www.thenational.ae?) but for a newspaper owner to choose to address the world via Twitter shows just how fast things are moving. The 45,000-follower base Mr Murdoch built in just three days is still dwarfed by the circulation of his papers, but the trend is clear.

Equally clear, however, is that when he needs defending, his wife is ready. Last July, Wendi Deng delivered a clout to the head of the man who hit Mr Murdoch with a pie in the face, and this week she was just as quick to protect him from himself. She made him take down the offending tweet, and assured her own followers that he had just been joking.

Whether that's true or not, we must say that Mr Murdoch, of all people, should have known that everybody needs an editor.