Lachlan Murdoch
Lachlan Murdoch (Image AP)

Last week, News Corp co-chairman and heir apparent Lachlan Murdoch dropped a cool US$150m (A$217m) on a Los Angeles mansion that, according to a Bloomberg source, once featured on noted anti-poor ’60s comedy The Beverly Hillbillies.

Following a good decade or two of mass layoffs, outlet closures and just general media collapse, it’s quite a time to set a new Californian real estate record, even if Lachie managed to knock off at least US$100m from the asking price.

Crikey dives into where else the billionaire media mogul might have invested his cash.

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2170 journalists at The Australian for a year

According to PayScale, the highest salary of a News Corp journalist is $86,000. If we assume The Oz bumps this up to at least $100,000 (including entitlements) for their good journalists, Lachlan could have more than plugged any holes in that sinking ship.

Australian Community Media, or 542 new regional media websites

Regional news has been the first, and continuing, casualty in the death of the newspaper.

Lachlan could have either helped stem this stream of death by purchasing former Fairfax division Australian Community Media for $125 million — including its 160-odd mastheads and 130 associated websites — with almost $100m leftover in change. Or, if we assume $400,000 to cover website startup and maintenance costs, he could have created 542 new regional media websites for hyper-local public interest journalists to submit their own stories and fill the gap.

5425 cadet journalists

Ask any journalism grad and the opportunities for paid, decent news jobs are slim. At PayScale’s lowest end, $40,000, News Corp could fund 5425 cadet journalists. Spread that out to 542 per year, and you’ve covered the next generation of journalists for the next decade.

607.8 Judith Sloans

Say hard, regional or sustainable news isn’t for you. Say you want to go for the big guns, someone willing to stand up to Jacinda Adern’s response to the Christchurch massacre. Say you want Judith Sloan.

After her $357,000 salary leaked last year, we can officially say Lachlan Murdoch could have afforded 607.8 Judith Sloans instead of a Beverley Hillbillies mansion.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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