Thursday, August 02, 2007


So much for my praising of the Bancroft family for not capitulating to Rupert Murdoch's overtures... after News Corp sweetened its takeover offer to a whopping US$5 billion -- translating into a US$60-per-share bid that was 67% higher than Dow Jones's share price -- they were hardly going to say no. Rupe will now own the Dow Jones & Co in its entirety, and the exodus of reporters from the Wall Street Journal and other Dow Jones publications has already begun.

On the Channel Four news last night, reporter Sarah Smith argued the point that people concerned that News Corp's takeover of the WSJ would make its coverage more right-wing were forgetting that, due to its staunchly pro-market capitalism stance, it is already one of the most right-wing newspapers in the world. Okay, it's a valid argument, but it neglects the fact that Murdoch has well-known allegiances to certain political parties, particularly in the U.S., and that political parties in general are reliant on hefty donations from corporations - businesses that would de facto be covered regularly in the Wall Street Journal and across the range of Dow Jones media. With Murdoch almost certain to appoint his own choice of editor at the WSJ before long, will we still be able to count on the paper's unbiased portrayal of key business concerns? Somehow I doubt it.

I'm sure there are a million more things to be said on the subject but right now I'm just depressed. So much news controlled by one man? Ironically, it probably wouldn't be such a big deal if Murdoch himself wasn't such an interventionist, such a campaigner for his own political views. What news organisation couldn't do with a boost from someone with pockets as deep as his? The takeover is certainly expected to give rival paper The Financial Times a serious run for its money. But I can't help feeling that quantity will not be matched by quality. And for a paper with a reputation as grand as the WSJ, it's a sad state of affairs.


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