News Corp.’s annual meeting today in Los Angeles is notable for several reasons:
- It’s the company’s last meeting as a conglomerate of entertainment and news properties; the latter are being spun off into a separate company next year.
- The phone-hacking scandal that dogged the company in 2011 and 2012 seems to have peaked, though fresh revelations of a £7 million ($11.2 million) payout to former News International CEO Rebekah Brooks, who goes on trial next year, could keep the issue on shareholders’ minds.
- This is the first annual meeting since CEO Rupert Murdoch joined Twitter.
The 81-year-old mogul has been a surprisingly frank presence on the microblogging service since he joined at the beginning of the year. Collecting lists of Murdoch’s best tweets has become something of a sport, and some are even available on letterpress notecards. (I have one at my desk.)
Perhaps the best part of Murdoch’s ten-month foray on Twitter is that, while he follows only 29 people, he clearly reads through tweets that mention him, from the derogatory to the vituperative, occasionally even deigning to respond. Over the weekend, Murdoch made news by insulting British celebrities who are seeking new privacy laws in the UK, then apologized to one Twitter user who criticized him for “descending to the language of the gutter.”
Though Murdoch’s Twitter presence has frequently ignited controversy—and must be a nightmare for his handlers—the 140-character missives have also lent an air of humanity to the oft-caricatured CEO. Thanks to the account, we know of Murdoch’s fondness for Central Park and the Matt Damon tearjerker “We Bought a Zoo” (a 20th Century Fox film, naturally). The effect is only heightened by his typos and habit of randomly replying to people.
The big question remains whether Murdoch, who usually tweets from an iPad, will feel compelled to send any messages during the company’s annual meeting. Last week, he issued a warning to disgruntled shareholders who might raise hell, presumably including the California pension funds that plan to vote against reelecting the Murdoch family to News Corp.’s board: