Since the 1960’s Rupert Murdoch has amassed one of the world’s largest media empires. His News Corporation owns hundreds of newspapers, television networks, movie studios, publishing imprints, and web properties worldwide. His holdings are successful largely because of their populist sensibility and their timely appeal to traditionally under-served market segments. For example, Fox News Channel was created to attract politically conservative viewers, who Murdoch felt were largely ignored by other cable networks. Fox and other News Corp brands use tactics to make the news more entertaining and easier to understand, often at the expense of journalistic integrity. These tactics include sensationalism, outsized personalities, slogans, and the use of eye-catching, informative graphics. Increasingly they have been able to use their vast communicative power to shape popular sentiment, amplifying political divisiveness that in turn solidifies their viewership base. Popular media figures have essentially become de facto political leaders in the absence of other strong personalities.
However, the internet poses a serious threat to the traditional news media, making content available online for free, siphoning off ad revenues, and giving all voices a platform. Media conglomerates are scrambling to develop measures to keep their businesses viable in the face of plummeting revenues, including content sharing, alliances, cross-platform integration, and pay-walls. Regardless, the news media will continue to shed staff and will increasingly assume a curatorial role, where a few individuals edit, filter and repackage content for narrow target audiences.
This project takes this contraction and re-shaping of the news industry as its starting point. This project proposes to create a new headquarters in Manhattan to replace News Corporation’s aging Sixth Avenue home. The new headquarters will combine offices and housing in order to anticipate News Corp’s contraction over time while maintaining a significant architectural presence. This combination will also engender a culture that blurs the distinction between the realms of media producer and media consumer, reflecting the ever increasing ambiguity of the news company as en entity.
The inevitable self-selection that will occur in the population of the building will reinforce News Corporation’s position not as an objective news gathering organization, but as a community of individuals who unite under a shared political position for personal gain. It will reveal the falsehood of the democratic notion of participatory media, that rather than uniting disparate groups the new media only serve to further isolate individuals into distinct socio-economic groups.