|Australia: Victoria, Melbourne, West Melbourne
|Australia: Victoria, Melbourne, Langwarrin
|First World War, 1914-1918
Biographical information The Oxford companion to Australian military history in 1995
Keith Arthur Murdoch
Father of media magnate, Rupert, Keith Murdoch was also a newspaper proprietor and journalist. He was born in Melbourne on 12 August 1885 and, as a youth, suffered from a debilitating stammer that made his formative years difficult.
Having completed school, Murdoch became a journalist with the Age where he enjoyed a degree of success. In 1908 he travelled to England where he hoped to receive treatment for his stutter. By 1911, back with the Age, he had managed to control his affliction, was promoted and became Commonwealth parliamentary reporter. Murdoch grew close to several prominent politicians and was a founding member of the Australian Journalists Association which was established in 1910.
In 1912, Murdoch was given the job of Melbourne political correspondent for the Sydney Sun. When the First World War began he narrowly lost a journalist's ballot to C.E.W. Bean for the coveted position of official correspondent to the AIF.
In 1915 he was transferred to London to take up the position of Managing Editor of the United Cable Service. He travelled to the Dardanelles after the August fighting had petered out and, after just four days on the peninsula, sought to take a letter from the British journalist, Ellis Ashmead Bartlett, to the British Prime Minister without passing the censor. The letter, outlining the nature of the Gallipoli fiasco, was intercepted in Marseilles, but Murdoch wrote an 8,000 word piece of his own which, though it contained many errors, was seen by the Australian Prime Minister and senior British politicians. The letter is credited with contributing to the decision to recall the campaign's commander and for the eventual evacuation, but it earned Murdoch the contempt of many high-ranking officers.
Influential with many politicians, Murdoch acted as an intermediary between the Prime Ministers of Britain and Australia and, along with Bean, sought to influence the appointment of the commander of the Australian Corps in 1918. After the war, he rose to high paying positions in the newspaper world and in 1921 became chief editor of the Melbourne evening Herald. He proved an astute newspaper man and began to increase his wealth significantly. In June 1928 he married Elisabeth Greene and the following year acquired the Adelaide Advertiser.
By the mid-1930s Murdoch had established a national chain of media outlets based around newspapers and commercial radio stations, having already established himself as a strong supporter of the political right. Over the course of the Second World War, Murdoch's political views grew increasingly strident. He had also been a long-time patron of the arts, having sponsored exhibitions, become president of the library, museums and gallery trustees and founding the Herald chair of fine arts at Melbourne University.
He retired in 1949 and died on the night of 4-5 October 1952, having undergone several operations for cancer in the preceding years.