RIP, Wall Street Journal

Posted on August 1, 2007

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In the end, money talks.

Never mind that the Bancroft family has apparently insisted on retaining the Wall Street Journal’s top editors and wrangled an agreement to limit Murdoch’s ability to replace the newspaper’s top dogs.

You just know that it’s a matter of time before Murdoch gets his way. He always does anyway. That’s the sad reality of the power of his billions.

Murdoch’s $5 billion offer, or $60 per share, was just too good to pass up, especially with the younger and less wealthy elements of the Bancroft clan. Ever the shrewd businessman, Murdoch further sweetened the deal by offering to pay for the costs that the Bancrofts have incurred by engaging expert advice from bankers and lawyers, on the deal. That came up to some $40 million.

Despite the news of the Bancrofts caving in being splashed all over the place, the newspaper’s lifeblood, its reporters and editors, have yet to get an official announcement from the management.

No wonder they were reportedly standing round drinking whiskey and mourning the future (or lack thereof) of their careers and the newspaper.

Now that Murdoch has gotten his paws on his most-coveted prize, he would be an even more formidable force, being in charge of one of the most influential newspapers in the US. He would pitch it in even fiercer competition against international papers such as the Financial Times and the New York Times. He especially has a bone to pick with the New York Times.

It’s not just in the newspaper industry that he would soon be a stronger force to be reckoned with.

In the television news arena, especially in financial news, he is likely to become even more powerful. His Fox network has shaken up the cable television industry, especially the news division, with the right-wing biased Fox News. He’s now closer to establishing a financial news channel and with the resources he could harness through the Wall Street Journal and the Dow Jones newswire, he is going to give rivals like CNBC and Bloomberg a serious challenge, and could even eventually dominate cable financial news.

But at least, journalists should rejoice at one act of courage in the face of the cynical march towards money and rewards.

Leslie Hill, a Bancroft family member and a board member, resigned in protest against the deal. Let it not be on Hill’s conscience, but that of the other Bancroft members who were seduced by the deal, when the standard of the Wall Street Journal goes down the drain in pursuit of Murdoch’s agenda.

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