The announcement last night that key Murdoch aide Robert J. Thomson, who had been charged with selecting the next top editor of The Wall Street Journal , had pulled a Dick Cheney and selected himself, will have many speculating about the future of the Journal.
But why speculate when the evidence is right on the front page of the Wall Street Journal? Today’s front page shows that the worst fears of Journal watchers–turning the Journal into the New York Post or even the Sun–haven’t come to pass. But there does seem to be a shift in focus. Newspapers communicate their image of what is important with their front pages. And the front page story is a prized win for reporters, conveying prestige among colleagues. A few months ago the news desk at the Journal was split between general news and business news, and business news seems to be losing some of its grip on the paper.
Take a look at what’s on the Journal’s front page. Today there are six stories. The top billing is giving to the story of Ted Kennedy’s brain tumor. The two other above the fold stories are about the quake in China and the US military. Below the fold we have a story about doping scandals in the Olympics. Of these, only the military story–they plan to use more alternate fuels–has a solid business angle. The rest are general news stories. Murdoch, who is said to favor more general news more prominently placed in the Journal, must be pleased.
The “What’s News” section continues to lead with business and finance news shorts. For now.
DealBreaker’s probing coverage into the search for a name of News Corp and NBC Universal’s online video JV is over. The two companies finally put that billion dollar brain-trust to work and came up with a name that is bound to draw viewers and admirers alike.
The winner – Hulu. Hulu. We’re serious. Hulu – the result of a five month search. Hulu – when you get punched while trying to say the word “Hula.” Hulu – the lieutenant commander of the Enterprise when everyone has a cold. Hulu – how George Bush mispronounces the first two syllables of the folksy word “hullabaloo.”
It took the ad wizards five months to “capture” the spontaneity and child-friendly assonance of hip techie names like Lala, Tinkie-Winkie, Joost, Wii, WiiWii, Yahoo, Belo, PooPoo, Lyondell Chemical Company and Fuchs Petrolub AG*.
Conclusion – Either the marketing team is borderline retarded or it took Rupert this long to shout “Hulu” out his window during a storm in which he thought the Nothing was consuming the remnants of Fantastica and the Ivory Tower in which the childlike empress resides (which has been our theory all along).
The new site is going to begin invitation-only beta testing in just two short months. It is expected to launch in 2130.
News Corp and NBC Universal name video site Hulu [Yahoo Finance]
*There is a company that makes lubricants called Fuchs (we had to reprint it to believe it)
Scandal: Murdoch Already Meddling With The Wall Street Journal
By Bess Levin
Foreign Media Mogul Already Messing With Journalists
Rupert Murdoch almost seems to be living up to the worst fears many had when made his bid for Dow Jones. Almost.
He’s been “flexing his muscles” by calling Wall Street Journal reporters, according to the Los Angeles Times. At least three reporters have had calls for him.
So what has prompted Murdoch’s calls? Does he want more favorable coverage of China? More “fair and balanced” Fox New Channel style reporting? A five-star review for the Simpson’s Movie?
Not quite. It seems that what Murdoch has been doing is attempting to keep the reporting staff of the Journal intact. The three reporters he’s called were considering leaving the Journal and Murdoch has asked them to stay.
“Murdoch, who has been vacationing in the Mediterranean in recent days, made the calls to the reporters from his yacht, the Rosehearty, named for the Murdoch family’s ancestral home in Scotland,” the LA Times reports.
Scandal upon scandal! He’s got a yacht! It’s in the Mediterranean. Where are the reporters’ yachts? Where is the Mediterranean for the reporters?
We’re not sure why this is anything but a positive story for the Journal, its editors, its reports and its readers. As we maintained from the beginning, Murdoch did not come to destroy the Journal but to own it. And now he’s personally reaching out to reporters in an attempt to keep it intact.
But there’s already a movement to make something scandalous of these moves. “Some journalists in the newsroom took the gesture as a sign of Murdoch’s commitment to keep the staff’s quality high. Others said it showed that Murdoch would take a hands-on approach in newsroom affairs despite a special committee established to keep him from interfering in coverage,” the LA Times reports.
Heaven forbid! The owner is trying to keep his top reporters! It’s a clear violation of the editorial integrity of the newspaper, which apparently now means letting the newsroom fall report.
So who are the put-upon reporters who got the call? The LA Times named them as Tara Parker-Pope, Kate Kelly and Henny Sender. The latter two are DealBreaker favorites, who have broken important stories in recent months. (Tara Parker-Pope is a Health writer.) We’re sure they’re in high demand, and it just seems demented to expect that Murdoch wouldn’t fight to keep them on board.
Our question: is this what they were talking about when they said Murdoch would “interfere” with the Journal? If so, bring it on!
Murdoch’s presence felt at Journal [Los Angeles Times]
Meaning that more people are reading the Journal for less time, at least online, following the Murdoch print media philosophy of more eyes, less ink (we would have also accepted: “words are offensive,” or “who likes to read anyway?”). Maybe it’s that people turned away from market news in July the same way you can’t stare at a train wreck or maybe it was the Journal’s new emphasis on less-reader-intensive celebrity nipple slips, but monthly numbers suggest a definite Pre-Post-erization (take a second to wrap your head around that term) of the now slightly less sacrosanct WSJ.
Editor & Publisher released its monthly traffic numbers for online newspapers for the month of July. Compared to May, when the glacial progression of the Murdoch buyout process was really kicking off, the Wall Street Journal in July was being read by more people for 2 fewer minutes on average per user per month. It was being read by 3% more people for 17% less time. Ok Rupert, you win.
The order of the top five online publications ranked by traffic remained static from May to July, with the Journal rounding out that club at number five. The online papers read more than the Journal are the NYTimes, USATODAY, Washington Post and LA Times (in that order). The top three all experienced greater traffic spikes than the WSJ from May to July and, wait a second…all experienced declines in the average time spent on the site per user which means that (you heard it on DB first) Rupert Murdoch is going to buy the NYTimes, USATODAY and Washington Post. The world’s online print media is powerless to resist its reduction to large badly-punned inappropriate titles. Surprisingly, more people trafficked online newpapers in July than May, which confirms that suspicion that the people on vacation (your bosses) weren’t reading online papers anyway (you knew your MD was illiterate, strangely out of the cultural/current event loop) and that there is an inverse correlation between how busy people are at work and online media traffic.
For some reason one of most significant swings from May to July was the average time spent per person reading the NY Post, which increased over 50%, from a paltry 6 minutes per month to over 9 minutes. Alright, now we’re confused, what are you up to Rupert?
EXCLUSIVE: Top 30 Web Sites for July Traffic [Editor & Publisher]
UPDATE: Here’s Ranking of 30 Most Popular Newspaper Sites for May [Editor & Publisher]
Wall Street Journal reporters are in mourning today after the Bancroft family sold their souls to the News Corp Murdochracy for $5bn. “It’s sad. We held a wake. We stood around a pile of Journals and drank whiskey,” one writer said.
The Journal’s Managing editor, Marcus Brauchli (whose job, it should be noted, was secured during those interminable negotiations for “editorial independence”) tried to cheer up the troops this morning, sending around an internal memo with such heartrending reassurances as, “Our journalism defines the Journal,” and “It is too early to know how or even whether News Corp. ownership might alter priorities or structures at Dow Jones.”
For the time being, he’s probably right.
It’s finally pretty much almost over. Rupert Murdoch has secured enough Bancroft family shareholder votes to move forward with his $60-a-share, $5bn bid, one future News Corp holding reports.
One day after a Murdoch spokesperson said the deal was “highly unlikely,” the Denver branch of the Bancroft family, previously holding out for a higher offer, capitulated, giving News Corp at least 32% of the family vote. Nonetheless, one Bancroft family spokesperson said today, “Any suggestion that the process has been completed and/or that a particular level of support has been established is at this point premature.”
Both companies have board meetings this evening to formulate the take-over procedure. Dow Jones is trading up 7.04% to $57.50 today.
News Corp. Appears to Have Enough Votes to Clinch Deal [Wall Street Journal]
Murdoch Seen to Win Control of Dow Jones [NY Times]
This is a list of people who we respectfully submit are liars: CNBC’s David Faber, Thestreet.com’s Nat Worden, and Reuters. We believe these entities to be capital ‘L’ small ‘i’ small ‘a’ small ‘r’s because among them they share the distinction of having reported or re-reported this morning that there will be an official announcement of News Corp.’s Dow Jones victory tonight. Nothing personal, it’s just that we no longer believe the words coming out of the mouths of people who say anything—outright, implying, leading, lip synching—that even hints that this whole thing will be conclusively finished before hell freezes over. We WANT to believe them, we just can’t. Know anyone you’d like to add to our list? Send his/her name to tips at dealbreaker dot com.
In other news, MySpace co-founder Brad Greenspan sent an open letter to Dow Jones shareholders detailing a new proposal (he’s done this before, several times) in which he would invest $600 million in cash and stock in three joint ventures with DJ. Greenspan says he’s received “interest” from five “credible” investor groups, though he would not disclose their names, and their profiles are set to private. Brad informed shareholders that he and his investors “can meet this week” in order to “firm investment commitments,” but starting next week things are going to be really tight for him, so if Dow Jones could really get back to him A-sap to nail something down that would be solid, just name the time and place, but seriously, get back to him soon, otherwise, who knows, he could be busy.
Dow Jones to Agree To Takeover by News Corp. [CNBC]
Dow Jones Deal Gets Closer [WSJ]
Dow Jones Soars As Deal Appears Near [thestreet.com]
News Corp., Dow Jones deal expected Tues [Reuters]
MySpace Co-Founder Makes Another Dow Jones Proposal [Bloomberg]
Rupert Murdoch’s bid for Dow Jones, once a sure thing, then “too close to call,” is now “highly unlikely” unless the Bancroft family increases its support of the deal by 5 p.m. today, the Wall Street Journal reports.
At the moment, 28% of Dow Jones’ voting power supports the deal, although it is unclear what percentage of Bancrofts voted affirmatively; 30% of the family needs to support Murdoch for his $5bn bid to go through. If this is not met, “News Corp likely wouldn’t take the deal to a full Dow Jones shareholder vote.”
After all the mud-slinging and Rupe’s cryptic commentary, this summer’s saga could come to a close tonight, in which case I will have no idea what to write about.
News Corp. Says It’s ‘Highly Unlikely’ To Buy Dow Jones at Current Count [Wall Street Journal]