Rupert Murdoch wants to buy the Daily Prophet.

Media criticism.
July 11 2011 6:12 PM

Murdoch To Buy the Daily Prophet

The dark lord of media has his eyes on a magical property.

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Skeeter has gotten some of her biggest scoops by using her power to assume the form of a beetle and then eavesdropping on her subjects. When told that Skeeter could turn herself into a beetle, Murdoch is said to have exclaimed, "All my best people can!"

Among Murdoch's first challenges at the Prophet will be to update its circulation department. Currently, the newspaper is delivered by owl, impractical for delivering papers to the 2.6 million Sunday subscribers who received the News of the World. Once Murdoch's Wapping facility is refitted with Protean Charm presses, he intends to move the Prophet from its Diagon Alley offices to Wapping.

The Prophet deal might be too technologically advanced for Murdoch to succeed, however. More than a dozen of his company's Internet initiatives have flopped since 1993—the biggest was MySpace, which was bought  for $580 million in 2005 and mostly unloaded for $35 million last month. If Murdoch's News Corp. can't make money off HTML, what chance does it have deploying magical technology?

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As part of the deal, News Corp. will be restructuring its assets. Similarly, Rupert Murdoch is creating a horcrux, the most wicked of all magical inventions. A horcrux allows a dark wizard to divide his soul so that if foes destroy his body, he can resurrect himself using the fragments and thereby ensure his immortality. At present, Murdoch plans to make only one horcrux.

Lord Voldemort made a record-breaking seven.

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True story: In early September 2001, News of the World appointed Charles Begley its Harry Potter correspondent, had him change his name to Harry Potter, and, in its Sept. 9 edition, published a two-page spread documenting his transformation from reporter to young wizard. According to Begley's first-person report in the Independent, on the afternoon of Sept. 11, 2001, when Rebekah Brooks was editor of News of the World and Andy Coulson was her deputy, Brooks ordered Charles to don his Harry Potter costume 90 minutes after the collapse of the second tower and visit her office where she and other News International executives were waiting.

Begley writes that he thought, given the events of the day, posing as Potter would be wrong, so he went to Brooks' office in street clothes. According to Begley, Coulson was furious, saying, "You should have your Harry Potter costume with you at all times. There could be a Harry Potter emergency." Brooks has consistently denied the story.

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Jack Shafer was Slate's editor at large. You can follow him on Twitter or email him at Shafer.Reuters@gmail.com.