At the beginning of this week, The Guardian published its 12th annual list of the 100 most powerful people in the media industry. Covering broadcast media, newspapers and magazines, new media, marketing, advertising and PR, the Guardian Media 100 is compiled by a panel of industry insiders who take into account the economic, cultural and political influence individual media figures exert in the UK.
Unsurprisingly, given the size of their audiences and revenues, social media and technology companies dominate the top 10. Google CEO Larry Page takes pole position, reflecting his company’s attempts to move into the social networking market with Google+. Twitter’s Dick Costolo takes second place, while both Sir Jonathan Ive for Apple and Android/ Google’s Andy Rubin (third and sixth place respectively) are feted for the role they played in developing tablet products and changing the way we access information online.
The sole representative of the news publishing business in this year’s top 10 is Paul Dacre, whose position at number seven in the list remains unchanged from last year. The Daily Mail’s editor-in-chief has seen his paper flourish in a year when rival titles have been dogged by allegations of phone-hacking and revenue losses. Thanks in large part to the successes of the MailOnline, which is vying with the nytimes.com to be the world’s most popular English language website and turned a profit for the first time this year, Viscount Rothermere, head of the Daily Mail and General Trust, has climbed seven places since 2011, reaching number 35.
Presenting an overview of this year’s results, The Guardian’s media correspondent and MediaGuardian 100 judge John Plunkett suggests that 2012’s rankings reflect a year in which the Leveson inquiry acted as “the biggest force for change in the media landscape." True, for the first time ever Rupert Murdoch missed out on a position as one of the 10 most powerful people on the British media landscape, but a look at the MG100 micro-lists, ranking the influence of each individual according to particular areas of the media, tells a slightly different story.
In 2011, the GM100 panel estimated that Rupert Murdoch was the most powerful figure in the newspapers and magazine sector, and placed his son James third. Murdoch junior’s decision to stand down from News International in the wake of the News of the World scandal means he lost much of his influence over the British publishing business in 2012. His father on the other hand has seen himself relegated to a perfectly respectable second place, behind Dacre – hardly a sign of waning influence. In fact, the panel cited Rupert Murdoch’s continuing investment in British newspapers, with the introduction of The Sun on Sunday and ongoing relationships with key political figures in the UK as reasons why it “would be unwise to write the man off, or dismiss the influence he still wields.”
The "power by sector" lists also suggest that in the previous 12 months news publishers and journalists have had little impact on the world of digital media. Whilst online companies like Google, Amazon, Facebook and Twitter present stiff competition in the digital category, it is perhaps a little surprising that a greater number of individuals from news companies were not able to muscle their way onto the list. Were it not for the MailOnline’s Martin Clarke, not a single news title would feature amongst the sector’s most influential figures. Clarke, who this year oversaw an 80 percent year-on-year rise at the mailonline.com, is credited with being the visionary responsible for the Daily Mail’s online popularity. As previously discussed by the SFN blog, Clarke was quick to realize that a newspaper’s website could be a brand in its own right, distinct from its mother publication and therefore capable of attracting and retaining a much wider audience. Whereas other UK titles are looking to reduce staff numbers and editorial budgets, the MailOnline site is set to hire more web journalists as it expands overseas.
Other digital news ventures struggled in the main Media 100 list, which is unsurprising given the modest revenue such projects tend to generate.
Despite Plunkett’s insistence that this year’s list differs greatly from that of 2011, it is difficult to gauge whether or not significant change has occurred in the news media landscape using the Guardian Media 100 alone. Rather, the MediaGuardian 100 2012 appears to present a news industry in which digital has yet to become a prominent force, even though it is central to the future strategies of the majority of news titles.
Sources: The Guardian