OLD Media Moves

Bancrofts gave up on WSJ when they started selling stock

August 7, 2007

Posted by Chris Roush

Fortune senior editor at large Allan Sloan writes Tuesday in The Washington Post that the Bancroft family that supposedly prized the journalism integrity of The Wall Street Journal gave up on the paper when they started selling stock in the parent company, Dow Jones & Co., years ago.

Allan SloanSloan wrote, “Now, look at this: Since 1984, when the permanent-control plan (delayed for two years by a lawsuit) was proposed to Dow Jones shareholders, the Bancrofts have sold more than 60 percent of their company stock. (See accompanying box for the calculations.) That being the case, you wonder why many of them even bothered to oppose Murdoch, considered by many (including me) to be the Dark Lord of journalism because his properties always seem to advance his business interests.

“Heaven forfend that the Bancrofts would be so tacky. In fact, the pitch for entrenching the family, presented in Dow Jones’s 1984 proxy statement, was to ‘provide better assurance that in the years ahead the company and its publications will continue to operate under the same quasi-public trust philosophy that the family has followed since Clarence Barron acquired the company in 1902.’

“Oh, well. By the time the endgame was playing out, various Bancrofts had long since given up on journalistic principle and were just trying to extract a better deal for themselves than the $60 a share that Murdoch was offering other shareholders.”

Read more here.

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