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Murdoch’s bid for Wall Street Journal parent Dow Jones suggests that News Corp, perhaps alone, knows where news is headed 5/1/07

Posted by Steve Boriss in Acquisition, Bid, Dow Jones, Murdoch, News Corporation, TimesSelect, Wall Street Journal.

It’s often said that if railroads had thought they were in the transportation business instead of the railroad business, they might have invented the automobile. Therein lies the difference between the old media and Rupert Murdoch, a man whose company, News Corporation, makes it perfectly clear it is in the news business before you finish reading its name. It isn’t like that at the NY Times, Washington Post, metro dailies, newspaper chains, and the AP, which typically behave as if they are either in the newspaper or journalism business. And broadcast outlets tend to behave as if they are in the entertainment business — which, in fact, they are.

So, it’s not surprising to see that in reacting to Murdoch’s daring bid for Wall Street Journal (WSJ) parent Dow Jones, most in the industry fail to see his move for what it really is. It is much more than a clever way for him to enter the business-news TV channel business, per NY Daily News publisher Mort Zuckerman. And it is much, much less than a vote of confidence in other newspapers. Dow Jones owns valuable properties that no other news outlet has, and that will become even more valuable in the future of news. The WSJ creates original content on business and financial matters found nowhere else, while the vast majority of newspapers feed out of the same AP/NYTimes/WaPo news trough as everyone else. The WSJ provides information for the upscale, while all other news outlets scramble for the attention of any news consumer they can find. The WSJ provides just about the only national and international news that impacts individuals directly and personally — financial news. In order for most other news to impact us directly, the stories must be either personal (e.g. social computing) or hyperlocal. The direct, personal impact of its financial news is the main reason why the WSJ has actually succeeded in selling subscriptions to its online news. In contrast, the NY Times smugly moved some of its material behind the “TimesSelect” subscription firewall only to be puzzled by why people won’t pay to read the columns of Thomas Friedman and Maureen Dowd. The fact of the matter is that Murdoch seems to be the only one to recognize that the Wall Street Journal is just about the only old media property that, in the future of news, will be worth more than just the value of its brand name. (Hat tip: Chris Bachelder)


1. Adrian Monck - 5/2/07

Good post. But at 76, I also think Murdoch would love to have a national American news product – an upmarket USA Today. Interestingly he’s pretty uninterested in ‘synergies’ – look at News Corp.’s Brit operations – almost no back office integration.

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