Rupert’s allies

In this week’s Media Guardian podcast, Emily Bell, director of digital content at GU, comes out in support of Rupert Murdoch’s purchase of Dow Jones. She echoes Juan Antonio Giner, who says:

Excuse me, but I have been reading the WSJ for many years and the “editorial voice” of the paper was, and is, one of the most right wing voices of the newspaper world.

But more than that: do you know, my friends, ANY newspaper owner that doesn’t control the “editorial voice” of his paper?

C’mon!

The Wall Street Journal under Rupert Murdoch will NOT be able to be more right wing than it is now.

But The Wall Street Journal under Rupert Murdoch will perhaps have a better multimedia and online strategy and business management.

And perhaps he will invest and re-invest some of the money that the Bancroft family is pocketing today from profits and dividends.

If I were a journalist or an editor at the WSJ I would not be worried about who controls the “editorial voice” of the paper, but about if the people who run the company have a serious multimedia and online strategy, are ready to invest a lot of money in that vision and keep the newsroom doing its job as well as it has been — including the “editorial voice” of the editorial pages.

In an interview with Murdoch in the Journal itself — a long, Talmudic dissection of editorial governance of the Journal and of every apparent Murdoch sin the Journal could find — he talks about the company’s future:

I think it’s in the digital area, digital and TV. And I think we’ve got to pour some money into digital. We’ve got to do a lot of things there… There’s so much going on on the Internet. We’ve got to find new ways and new business models to get revenues. Or else the world is going to be owned by Google. . . .

The Internet is a great leveler. All newspapers count for less these days. So … as far as I’m concerned, I want to drive News Corp., as I’ve said, into being the greatest content company, whether it’s in news, opinions, writing or whether it be film or television. I mean there are so many new pipes in how you deliver these things.

Scott Karp takes him to task for pipe-thinking:

“New pipes”? Is Murdoch part of the Ted Stevens school of Web conceptualization? Pipes are emblematic of the old monopoly distribution models that put Murdoch on top — wishful thinking.

I usually also lampoon pipe-think but Murdoch is not talking about the power of distribution, the way he used to (when he owned a satellite company). He’s talking about content. And he’s talking about economic viability:

WSJ: One thing to address, you obviously have a great love of newspapers, but you’re also a business man…

Mr. Murdoch: Had to be. I mean, if they’re not viable, the papers die.

And he’s also talking about community. The Journal asks why he didn’t end up going for Tribune Company:

Mr. Murdoch: Don’t want to spend the rest of my life going through that, getting rid of people, ugly. I think they’re in decline, they can fire a few hundred people everywhere, save a couple of hundred million dollars … I guess they will have a billion a year to pay down the debt, that’s what it sounds like. No, a bit less … I would have thought that, although the decline in readership … will probably go on…

WSJ: They’re all going to MySpace.

Mr. Murdoch: I wish they were. They’re all going to Facebook at the moment.

The question is, will Dow Jones have a better future under Murdoch than under the Bancrofts or the other not-serious buyers who are supposedly surfacing (gee, Tierney has done such a bangup job in Philadelphia so far)? I’d vote for News Corp.

  • http://www.newcritics.com Tom W.

    As I blogged here, that may be the only time that a Murdoch acquisition actually moves an editorial page to the left!

    I agree with you on DJ – no question.