OLD Media Moves

The day the WSJ died?

December 23, 2009

GQ magazine has compiled an incredible oral history of the acquisition of The Wall Street Journal by Rupert Murdoch and News Corp. and what the reporters, editors and others involved were thinking at the time.

Here is an excerpt:

Ellen Pollock
Former editor, WSJ
I’ll never forget it. On May 1st of 2007, I was standing in the Page One newsroom, and we were looking at the wires on their computer. We saw the bid and we all started screaming and laughing, because it was so high. Then somebody said, “You know what this means?” And there was absolute silence in the room. We were at the Journal—we knew what happened when companies were taken over.

Ed Felsenthal
Former editor, WSJ
The notion that Murdoch would come through here one day was a constant refrain. I think sometimes it was said in jest and sometimes it was said in less jest. Particularly in periods when the stock price was in the toilet you’d hear it. So the announcement of the offer wasn’t an enormous shock. You’ve seen Fletch, right? Chevy Chase is a reporter and he’s trying to get information and he takes on all these disguises and identities. He’s with a doctor and he says about one of the doctor’s patients whose name he’s just spotted on the chart, “How is Harry?” And the doctor says, “Well, he’s dead.” And Fletch says, “Oh, I know. It was such a surprise.” And the doctor says, “Well, he was terminally ill for six years.” And Fletch says, “Well, yeah, but the end, the very end, that was a surprise.” It was a little bit like that.

Scot Paltrow
Former senior special writer, WSJ
As time went on it was clear that Dow Jones was not successful in broadening its business beyond the Journal, that every acquisition it had made did not work out well. There was increasing speculation that somebody would come in and take it over, and that, God forbid, Murdoch was the most logical candidate.

Ryan Chittum
Former reporter, WSJ
The stock was dead money for over 20 years. If you went back to 1983 and ran it through to before the Murdoch deal was announced, you didn’t make money. So the company was struggling, and there was always that gallows humor: What would be the worst-case scenario? And it’d be either Gannett or Rupert Murdoch.

Read it all here.

Subscribe to TBN

Receive updates about new stories in the industry daily or weekly.

Subscribe to TBN

Receive updates about new stories in the industry.