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August 01, 2007

Murdoch Seals $5 Billion WSJ Deal

I can't begin to conceive why this should matter to anyone (including conservatives, actually -- the WSJ is not going to change much if at all), but the left's collective head is exploding over it, so I guess it has to be noted.

A century of Bancroft-family ownership at Dow Jones & Co. is over.

Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. sealed a $5 billion agreement to purchase the publisher of The Wall Street Journal after three months of drama in the controlling family and public debate about journalistic values.

One of the oldest and best-known franchises in the newspaper industry, beset in recent years by business pressures, now enters a new era as part of a world-wide media conglomerate. The 76-year-old Mr. Murdoch, whose properties range from the Fox television network to the Times of London, negotiated hard to win the paper he long coveted. He has promised to invest more in Dow Jones journalism.

The Bancrofts worried about protecting the reputation of the Journal, the nation's second-largest newspaper. They feared Mr. Murdoch would meddle in the paper's editorial affairs and import the brand of sensationalist journalism found in some of his properties such as the New York Post. Some Bancrofts sought other buyers.

But ultimately, Mr. Murdoch's $60-a-share bid -- a 67% premium above Dow Jones's share price when it became public -- was the only serious offer on the table. Key family members, spurred by Dow Jones's board and advisers, decided they had no choice.

"On the one hand it is quite sad, but on the other it was the only reasonable thing to do," said Elisabeth Goth Chelberg, a Bancroft family member who unsuccessfully tried a decade ago to get the family more involved in management. "Now I look forward to a better Dow Jones. It's going to have more money and a world presence and all of the things that it could have and should have had but didn't."

Opponents of the deal called it a dark day for journalism. Leslie Hill, a family member who opposed the deal, resigned as a Dow Jones director late Tuesday afternoon. In a letter to the board, she conceded the deal was a good one in financial terms, but said it failed to outweigh "the loss of an independent global news organization with unmatched credibility and integrity."


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posted by Ace at 01:11 PM

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