Media Moves

Memo to Murdoch: Your WSJ will need to cover your company

July 8, 2007

Posted by Chris Roush

Former Wall Street Journal managing editor Norman Pearlstine writes in the Sunday Los Angeles Times that News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch will need to allow the Journal to cover his company if he is successful in acquiring Dow Jones & Co., its parent.

Norman PearlstinePearlstine said, “To overcome the journalists’ skepticism and that of the public, Murdoch must go far beyond stated principles and ad hoc committees — and hold himself and his company up to the scrutiny of quality journalism.

“Rigorous self-criticism won’t come easily to him, and, in fairness, very few chief executives of media companies are willing to see themselves dissected in their own publications. But at a large multimedia company such as News Corp. or Time Warner Inc., where I served as Time Inc.’s editor in chief for 11 years, such commitments are essential.

“Jerry Levin, the chief executive who hired me as editor in chief, was intellectually and emotionally committed to editorial independence. Levin understood that if we didn’t cover ourselves aggressively, we would have no credibility with Time Warner’s myriad competitors or with our readers. How could Sports Illustrated remain credible if it didn’t cover the Atlanta Braves (which were owned by the company), including pitcher John Rocker’s views on race? How could Entertainment Weekly remain credible if it didn’t cover the company’s movie studios, Warner Bros. and New Line?

“Moreover, what better response could we give when Sumner Redstone at Viacom Inc. or Murdoch at News Corp. complained about our tough coverage than to show how our own publications had covered our corporate parent and our chief executive?”

Read more here.

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