WSJ Editorial Independence Teeters in Late Night Deal

26 June 2007

NEW YORK: The blood is in the water and the Great White Shark of News Corporation is narrowing its circles around Dow Jones, readying for the final, fatal bite. A scenario with an outcome as inevitable as a Greek tragedy.

According to reports late last night, NewsCorp and Dow Jones reached a tentative agreement over measures to protect the editorial integrity of the latter's flagship newspaper, the Wall Street Journal. One insider predicts an announcement later this (Tuesday) morning.

Although the Murdoch bid was initially rejected by Dow Jones' controlling Bancroft family [WARC News: 24-May-07] the Great White doesn't cede its prey that easily, as many of its earlier meals will attest.

For example the UK's Times Newspapers group whose editorial integrity was similarly "guaranteed", chewed-up and spat out.

On Friday Dow Jones directors floated the idea of forming a special board with the power to veto the hiring and firing of key WSJ editors, the newspaper's publisher, and the head of Dow Jones Newswires.

The board would also oversee budgets and limit the use of use the WSJ brand to promote other NewsCorp businesses. Murdoch, however, was not enamored with these restraints and drafted his counter-proposal over the weekend.

According to a garrulous insider, he instead posited an independent committee with "a say" over the hiring or firing of key WSJ editors, but not the Journal's publisher or the head of Dow Newswires.

Moreover, his counter-proposal removes almost all the handcuffs from NewsCorp's freedom to exploit the WSJ brand to promote its forthcoming Fox Business Channel and other sibling projects.

Data sourced from Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff