By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

The Fox Street Journal

So Rupert Murdoch wants to buy the Wall Street Journal. This might prove to be as futile as Jack Welch’s bid to buy the Boston Globe from the New York Times Co.: the Bancroft family, which controls Dow Jones, the Journal’s parent company, is reportedly opposed. But this certainly raises some questions, doesn’t it? Here are a few:

  • If Murdoch succeeds, he’s really not stupid enough to wreck one of the great brands in journalism, is he?
  • But can he help himself?
  • Is the Journal’s nutty editorial page too right-wing even for Murdoch? By contrast, the Murdoch-owned Weekly Standard is a model of moderate sobriety.
  • Could Neil Cavuto have tugged his forelock any more obsequiously in his Fox News interview with Murdoch?
  • Does Murdoch know he could also wind up owning the Cape Cod Times, the New Bedford Standard-Times and other community papers? Will he drop by for a visit? Will he stop the bleeding?

And here’s some completely unfounded speculation. Dow Jones stock has underperformed for years, and at least some factions of the Bancroft family have reportedly pushed for a sale from time to time.

It’s possible that the moment for that sale has arrived, and that previous talks involving the Times Co. and the Washington Post Co. will be revived. Murdoch may have offered such a huge premium in order to get something done quickly and pre-empt other buyers. But given the Bancrofts’ initial reaction, he may already have failed.

Update: From the New York Observer: “‘It’s out of the frying pan and into a thermonuclear blast,’ said one Journal staffer. ‘This was the worst-case scenario — other than being sold to Vladimir Putin.'”

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  1. Rick in Duxbury

    Dan,You may consider the WSJ editorial page “nutty” but they do a better job of confining their opinions to that venue than some local papers I can think of. And FWIW, regardless of one’s world view, I would rather invest with an Ailes than a Sulzberger or a Graham, judging by recent history. Even Bancrofts have bottoms in their pockets. Business is business, eh?

  2. Anonymous

    Murdoch needs the WSJ to bring some much-needed journalistic heft to his soon-to-debut Fox Business Channel. I strongly suspect he would quickly spin off the Ottaway chain.

  3. Anonymous

    Wall Street Journal editorial page = “nutty”Boston Globe editorial page = mainstream Americam common senseUhhh yyeah rrrrright.

  4. Walter Brooks

    Dan, you are sorely missed by the “old media”, but after today’s “post” you may never again be able to “do lunch in Hyannis”.I’m featuring it on the front page of this morning.

  5. Peter Porcupine

    Hmmmm…having read Mr. Brooks’ links from other sources, I would say that if I were the Bancroft family, I would immediately sell JUST the Ottaway chain, and an option on the WSJ for the future, in case that 15% ROE goes south.

  6. Local Editor

    So, how long before Gatehouse Media gets involved in this?

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