July 06, 2007

Murdoch's World

With a Murdoch Wall Street Journal I expect to see front page articles about Nigerian kidnappers that begin with brilliant hooks like this:

It was a phone call from out of a parentsí nightmare. A hoarse voice on the other end whispered: "We have your daughter and we will kill her...."

You need not wait if you want this flavor of journalism in your prestigious centuries-old-paper. This is what you get today in the venerable Times of London - the Murdoch-owned Times.


So what should I read when Murdoch ruins the Wall Street Journal?

Is There Nowhere to Turn?

The New York Times has always been too full of self-importance and verbosity for my taste.

My hometown Boston Globe is too liberal-slanted and provincial. (Sure I'm liberal too, but I don't like the slant.)

I like the writing in the Washington Post. Do people subscribe to the Washington Post if they don't live in Washington? The Post is all about politics.

Where can I get my business news? Is there nowhere to turn?

As a WSJ subscriber I am pretty unhappy that Murdoch is taking over. It seems obvious to me that the WSJ is worth more - at least to me as a reader - as an independent news organization than it will be with Murdoch at the helm. I know I am a high-value advertising target. So I want the WSJ to target me and spare me the sensationalism that I hate.

I do not want to be put in a big demographic. I do not want to be treated like a mass audience.

I just want good reporting.

Why Selling to Murdoch Makes No Sense

Can somebody explain to me why everybody seems to think that Dow Jones needs to sell out? Why is it that the Wall Street Journal is only worth 5 billion dollars when it is bought by Murdoch? Doesn't it seem obvious that Dow Jones is worth even more on its own?

The argument has been made that we all live in a Murdoch world, that is, a telecom-cable-broadcast-network world where control over distribution is king.

Murdoch defines this old world. He wins the media game by bundling content and controlling mass audiences. His idea of "great" is a collection of TV channels that gathers the largest possible following by pandering to their lowest-common denominator. A niche publication has no place in Murdoch's war. Murdoch needs a mass audience, because it is a powerful weapon that can be used to bludgeon the expensive distribution problem.

If we really do live in a Murdoch world, I can understand how writers might need to be employed by massive conglomerates who have the muscle to bargain with massive monopoly pipe-owners.

But isn't that old world crumbling around us? Aren't we all hurtling towards a world where distribution of information is cheap, neutral, fragmented, and open?

In an Internet world, the only thing that has value is the information itself. Not the truck that delivers it. Not the satellite that beams it down.

WSJ is Worth More Independently

The Wall Street Journal is the best journalism in the world, and it seems to me that as the world's best information-factory, their newsroom is set up to thrive, even dominate, in the internet age.

The beauty of a free-distribution world is that they should be able to win purely on the basis of the integrity of their editorial independence and the quality of their writing. There is a reason that wsj.com is the only online newspaper that has succeeded behind a paywall. The quality of the journalism is gold. In a free-distribution world, it is hard to be second-best. Only the very best content is worth something - but it can be worth a lot.

So why is Dow Jones selling themselves out cheap to an old-fashioned media baron? WSJ is the best brand and news organization in the world, and they have no need to be bundled on Sky TV. Audiences will beat their own path to the Dow Jones doorstep. If those Journal editors stick to their knitting, the company will do just fine.

Can't the Bancroft family see how the world is changing? Can't they see that they own a jewel that will shine in the Internet era?

Don't they read the Wall Street Journal?

Posted by David at July 6, 2007 09:43 PM

I like the Financial Times. I switched to it when I finally had it with the lunacy on the WSJ editorial pages. (I don't like the NYT either.) The FT is quite good.

Posted by: ars at July 7, 2007 01:14 PM

Look to Fox news for an example of his best work! Its worse that the untruths pushed out by the Nazi propaganda machine of WWII

Posted by: Oli at July 19, 2007 07:32 AM
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