Tuesday, June 26, 2007

What Would Pontius Pilate Do?

Seems like the Bancrofts may be ready to cave in to Murdoch. First they handed negotiations over to the board of Dow Jones, now the board seems to have found a magic solution:
Dow Jones & Co and News Corp have agreed broadly on measures to protect the editorial independence of The Wall Street Journal under ownership by Rupert Murdoch's media conglomerate, clearing away a major hurdle in the way of a deal, a source says...

So far no other serious bidders have emerged, meaning that Murdoch could clinch ownership of Dow Jones if he satisfies the concerns held by the board and the Bancroft family that the Journal remain free from corporate interference...

Besides the Journal, Dow Jones also owns Dow Jones Newswires, the Factiva news database, Barron's, a group of community newspapers and several well-known stock market indicators including the Dow Jones industrial average.

News Corp owns the Fox broadcast network, Fox News Channel, newspapers in the United Kingdom, Murdoch's native Australia and the New York Post, the Twentieth Century Fox movie and TV studio and MySpace, the online social hangout site.

The Bancroft family has controlled Dow Jones for more than a century.
Dow Jones shares climbed 2.2% on this news. Maybe just a bit of quick profiteering for "the source"? But given the low ethical standard exhibited by the Bancrofts through their extraordinarily low-class editorialising, I suspect Murdoch's money will soon allay all their much-publicised fears about compromising quality journalism. I think the WSJ reporters have managed to win Pulitzers mostly because the Bancrofts are too lazy to worry about anything but their precious editorial. The end is nigh.

Ownership by Murdoch will spell the end of an era for the once-highly-respected WSJ and Dow Jones, but the fall from grace has been coming for some time now. For me, the WSJ reached an all-time low when President George W. Bush quoted the Fadhil brother's neocon-backed Iraq The Model blog as proof of success in Iraq. Bush quoted directly from a Wall Street Journal piece authored by the Fadhils. And there was me thinking the WSJ was plagiarizing the Fadhils, when actually they were paying the bastards! Arthur "Good News From Iraq" Chrenkoff was another WSJ favourite before his credentials got blown by ABC's MediaWatch.

UPDATE: Here's a thought. What if the Bancrofts asked their friend Mr. Sulzberger to sick his best NYT journos onto Murdoch and see what they could come up with? What if the current NYT series on Murdoch is the worst they could find, and what if the Bancrofts are therefore now prepared to sign on the dotted line? Hmmn?

Of course, there will still be some strong dissenters within the Bancroft family, and it's possible even a small minority could scuttle the deal. I'm hoping they invoke the original Dow Jones family charter, which explicitly states that heirs to the fortune have an obligation to uphold high quality journalism - that could result in a law case where Murdoch's journalism standards are put before a jury! Wouldn't that be fun?

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