Media Moves

Critics don't understand Murdoch's intentions

June 3, 2008

Jack Morton writes in American Journalism Review that the people critizing News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch for changing The Wall Street Journal just can’t comprehend his strategy.

Rupert MurdochMorton writes, “What Murdoch wants is a Journal that is more of a general-interest newspaper, the better to compete with the New York Times, rather than the business and financial newspaper it has always been. This strategy carries with it some risk of alienating the Journal’s traditional readers and advertisers. The new publisher, Robert Thomson, asserts that space devoted to business news has not been reduced, that news pages have been expanded to accommodate greater coverage of political and other non-business news. Still, the new emphasis is apparent on the front page. An analysis by the Project for the Excellence in Journalism found that on average business news has half the space on the front page as before and that political coverage has tripled. Whatever fears might linger about Murdoch’s motives, give him that he is willing to invest in expanding the Journal’s news product at a time when most newspapers are cutting back.

“Indeed, Murdoch’s investment in the traditional newspaper business has brought criticism on Wall Street, whose analysts continue to believe that the $5.2 billion he paid for Dow Jones was too high. This just shows how much smarter he is than Wall Street analysts, who tend to value business strictly based on profit-and-loss statements.

“Murdoch understands that the real value of Dow Jones and the Journal resides in the information they produce and their brand names.”

Read more here.

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