When it came out that Rupert Murdoch and Dow Jones had agreed on a way to preserve the Wall Street Journal’s editorial independence, we naively assumed that a compromise had been reached. In fact, the “agreement” consists of exactly what Murdoch wanted and more, the New York Times is reporting.
The details have not been finalized, but as it stands, News Corp will have the exclusive power to hire and fire top editors at the Journal. In addition, and this is the shocking part, the board of editors the Bancrofts want established as shield against Murdoch’s influence will not have veto power over any News Corp editorial appointees. Even the similar board at the Times of London, which the Bancrofts have cited as an example of too much News Corp influence, has this veto.
The Bancrofts still haven’t seen the agreement. Based on their past behavior, they probably won't be happy about it.
In related news, some Wall Street Journal staffers are apparently taking half the day off work today to protest Murdoch’s bid. According to a Newspaper Guild statement from this morning,
“The Wall Street Journal's long tradition of independence, which has been the hallmark of our news coverage for decades, is threatened today. We, along with hundreds of other Dow Jones employees represented by the Independent Association of Publishers' Employees, want to demonstrate our conviction that the Journal’s editorial integrity depends on an owner committed to journalistic independence.”
Nothing like a good “don’t go back” lunch break to show you are made of stern stuff.
Also, MySpace founder Brad Greenspan’s weird effort to block Murdoch by buying 25% of Dow Jones is apparently still happening. "We have put out a proposal to the family and the board, and I think they’re looking at it with great interest. We plan to meet with the board later this week – that’s a new development," he told CNBC yesterday.
Dow Jones stock dropped slightly with the news, most likely out of fear that the Bancrofts won’t like the agreement the board reached with Murdoch. The meter has slipped 5%.
Tentative Dow Jones Sale Pact Said to Give Murdoch Power to Hire and Fire at The Journal [NYT]
A statement from Wall Street Journal reporters [Romenesko]
Dow Jones Bidder to Meet Board; News Corp. Deal Reached [CNBC]