OLD Media Moves

Professor: Remember Clarence Barron

May 12, 2007

Posted by Chris Roush

Mitchell Zuckoff, a journalism professor at Boston University, writes in the Saturday Boston Globe that those assessing News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch‘s bid for Dow Jones & Co., the parent of The Wall Street Journal, need to remember former owner Clarence Barron.

Mitchell ZuckoffZuckoff wrote, “It’s worth noting that even as Barron drove himself and his employees, he never fired or laid off a single one. As the Journal’s vice president and general manager Kenneth Hogate wrote in 1928: ‘Nothing brought Mr. Barron more joy than the developing personnel in his various organizations. The spiritual and material welfare of his ‘boys’ was ever on his mind.’

“Contrast that with the fears of the Journal’s current union, which predicted that a Murdoch takeover would mean ‘gutting the enterprise and slashing the staff that make it the leading financial news organization.’

“These days, Murdoch is sometimes called ‘the world’s most powerful media executive.’ In that sense, if few others, he fits one Barron dictum that should guide his heirs in the weeks to come: ‘If you must pick a fight, pick only worthy adversaries.'”

Read more here. What Zuckoff ignores is the fact that Barron liked for his reporters to write positive stories about stocks that he owned, a trait that was well-documented in numerous books about The Journal. In addition, at least two Journal reporters under Barron’s ownership were caught accepting money from PR people to promote stocks in articles.

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