Tag Archives: Company coverage

WSJ editor backs agreement with Murdoch

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Stephen Foley of The Independent newspaper in London writes for Wednesday’s paper that the Wall Street Journal‘s managing editor, Marcus Brauchli, has backed the agreement between Dow Jones & Co. and News Corp. that would provide the editorial independence of the paper if it is acquired.

Marcus BrauchliFoley wrote, “The Wall Street Journal’s editor has thrown his weight behind efforts to find an agreement that preserves the newspaper’s editorial independence under the ownership of Rupert Murdoch, potentially taking the sting out of newsroom opposition to the mooted $5bn (2.5bn) takeover.

“Marcus Brauchli, who took over the job of editor earlier this year, said yesterday that he appreciated guidelines ‘reaffirming our principles of journalistic independence’ and thanked ‘the Murdoch family and their colleagues at News Corp for their efforts toward an agreement to preserve those principles’.

“His comments – in a statement also signed by the managing editor of the Journal’s sister company, Dow Jones Newswires – came after the publication of the agreement hammered out last week by Mr Murdoch’s News Corp media empire and the board of Dow Jones, which owns the Journal.”

Read more here. Foley also quotes the union president that represents business journalists at the paper saying that the agreement was not good enough.

Greenspan willing to team up to bid for Dow Jones

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Brad Greenspan, the former CEO of the company that once owned MySpace, told The Los Angeles Times that he would be willing to work with an investment firm recruited by Dow Jones & Co. staffers to fashion a joint bid for the financial news empire.

Wall Street JournalGreenspan has made an offer to buy 25 percent of the company, which owns The Wall Street Journal, Dow Jones Newswires, Barron’s and Marketwatch.

Joseph Menn of The Times wrote, “Brad Greenspan, who made a reported $47 million when his EUniverse was sold to Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., said in an interview that he would be happy to join forces with Yucaipa Cos.

“Controlled by Los Angeles billionaire Ron Burkle, Yucaipa has been advising the main union representing Dow Jones journalists, including those at the Wall Street Journal.

“‘They’ve certainly got great experience, and we would welcome working with them in some capacity,’ Greenspan said. ‘We are definitely open to talking to any other parties.’

“He declined to say whether talks had begun.”

Read more here.

Wall Street Journal agreement is vague, but protects top three editors

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Sarah Ellison of The Wall Street Journal writes Tuesday that the editorial agreement that aims to protect the newspaper should it be purchased by News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch is vaguely worded in some places but does protect the top three editors.

Wall Street JournalEllison wrote, “But the document’s power relies less on specific language than on how those editors — and the new owner — exercise influence. The agreement isn’t as detailed as, say, a rule book for a sports event: Much of the wording is vague, leaving operations to mutual agreement between the two parties. And the ability to enforce the agreement legally is less crucial than the ability of reporters and editors to win attention for their grievances.

“The document is partly designed to appease worried Dow Jones employees and the Bancroft family members who control the company’s voting shares. But it may also put News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch — who isn’t expected to shirk from implementing his strong notions of how a news-gathering enterprise should operate — on notice that he’s being closely watched. At other publications he has acquired, Mr. Murdoch has gained a reputation for meddling in editorial coverage.

“‘It gives you a good starting point,’ says John Huey, editor in chief of Time Warner Inc.’s Time Inc. ‘But that document isn’t what all this hinges on. It hinges on the good will, intelligence and backbone of the people involved.’”

Read more here.

Bancroft family lawyers could sway vote

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Matthew Karnitschnig of The Wall Street Journal writes Monday about a group of Boston lawyers who oversee the Bancroft family trusts and could influence the vote that determines whether the family, which controls Dow Jones & Co., sells to News Corp.

Wall Street JournalKarnitschnig wrote, “Lawyers from Hemenway & Barnes sit at the center of dozens of overlapping trusts that hold power over most of the Bancrofts’ 64% voting stake in the company (see a breakdown). Those lawyers occupy two of the three trustee seats on a number of key trusts, with the third held by a family member. On one of the biggest trusts, lawyers from the firm are the only trustees. And the fact that the large Bancroft clan is divided over whether to sell further deepens the firm’s influence.

“‘The vote really resides with them,’ says one family member who is leaning in favor of selling the company.

“Hemenway & Barnes’s involvement could make approval of the deal swift if negotiators for Mr. Murdoch’s News Corp. and Dow Jones agree on price. Even with 35 adult Bancroft family members still squabbling over whether to sell, less than half of the family’s shares would likely be required to win approval for a deal.”

Read more here.

Greenspan encounters Murdoch as a rival again

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Brad Stone of The New York Times writes Monday about Internet entrepreneur Brad Greenspan, who is leading an investment group that wants to buy a 25 percent stake in Dow Jones & Co., the parent of The Wall Street Journal, and potentially thwart an offer by News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch.

Brad GreenspanMurdoch acquired the company that owned MySpace, but Greenspan — who owned 10 percent of the company — thought that Murdoch wasn’t paying enough for the business.

Stone wrote, “Although a judge dismissed the case in December (Mr. Greenspan is considering an appeal) the market, at least, has confirmed his essential judgment. News Corporation got a bargain when it picked up the social networking site, and the deal is now viewed as one of the smartest in Internet history.

“But Mr. Greenspan insists his attempt to outmaneuver Mr. Murdoch this time is not personal.

“‘It’s a business transaction and I see a huge upside for the investors I’m bringing into this,’ he said. ‘And I love the Wall Street Journal brand.’ But there were also unique forces at work behind the scenes of the News Corporation’s acquisition of Intermix, some of them set into motion by Mr. Greenspan.”

Read more here.

Brauchli sends testy note to WSJ staffers after walkout

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Wall Street Journal managing editor Marcus Brauchli sent an angry message to the business journalists who didn’t show up for work on Thursday morning to protest the fact that the newspaper might be sold to News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch.

Marcus BrauchliJames Robinson of The Observer newspaper in London wrote, “In the meantime, feelings are running high at the paper, where senior managers have been promised a share of a $50m windfall should they be made redundant when the deal goes through. Browning claims many of them share their journalists’ scepticism about Murdoch, but they were unhappy about last week’s protest. ‘Some of them are trying to make their peace with Murdoch. We got a testy email from managing editor Marcus Brauchli [following last week's protest] which had obviously been written by lawyers.’ It told them their action wasn’t permitted and could result in disciplinary action.

“The Journal’s highly regarded editorial team fears Murdoch will change the content and take it downmarket, although it is difficult to see why an astute businessman like Murdoch would risk damaging the paper’s high-brow appeal. There is little doubt he will make changes, however. ‘He has enormous editorial flair,’ says one of his former journalists. ‘He could make the Journal into a much better product.’

“In a recent interview with the New York Times, Murdoch confessed: ‘I’m sometimes frustrated by the long stories,’ adding that he rarely gets around to finishing some articles. He told the Times he likes the paper’s neo-conservative comment pages, but would like to see more political coverage in the news pages and, just for good measure, added that he wasn’t a huge fan of the Saturday Journal either.”

Read more here.

WSJ posts editorial agreement between Dow Jones and News Corp.

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The agreement that is supposed to protect journalists at The Wall Street Journal from interference by News Corp. executives if the company acquires Dow Jones & Co., the newspaper’s parent, has been posted on the paper’s Web site Friday night.

Here’s the good stuff:

The authority of the managing editor and the editorial page editor of the WSJ and the managing editor of Newswires (unless, in the case of the managing editor of Newswires, he or she reports to the managing editor of the WSJ) will include:

• the power to hire and remove subordinates within their respective publications and operations, consistent with departmental budgets,

• control over spending and allocation of resources within departmental budgets set by N Corp management following discussion with the relevant editor; the decisions of N Corp on departmental budgets will be final.”

Later, it states more powers for the editors that included:

  • The managing editor of the WSJ would be consulted prior to the use of the WSJ or Dow Jones brand names by N Corp or any other party to give the managing editor the opportunity to raise any objections to and suggestions concerning the proposed use of the brand. The decisions of N Corp on branding matters would be final. 
  • In the case of the managing editors, authority over use of staff by advertisers and other business, 
  • In the case of the WSJ editorial page editor (1) authority to choose the editorial board members, the opinion columnists, the op-ed section editor and the editors of the book review, the Leisure & Arts section, OpinionJournal.com and the Far Eastern Economic Review, (2) final say over the positions taken by the editorial page and (3) authority over the selection of op-ed pieces. The editorial page editor would continue to report to the WSJ publisher, 
  • N Corp agrees that the following persons will be retained on their positions following closing, Marcus Brauchli (WSJ managing editor), Paul Gigot (WSJ editorial page editor) and Neal Lipschutz (Newswires managing editor)

Read more here.

How biz journalists get their iPhones to write critiques

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Josh Quittner, the editor of Business 2.0 magazine, notes that business writers for Newsweek and USA Today who have written positive books about Apple are among those who received advance versions of the new iPhone to write a review before its Friday launch.

Quittner’s magazine, on the other hand, did not receive one in advance.

Josh QuittnerQuittner wrote, “I also—and I’m sorry for this, because I hear he’s a very nice guy—simply can’t bear to read Pogue’s reviews of Apple products. (His video is adorable, though.) I like him on other stuff, especially cameras. But he should not be allowed to review Apple stuff. I mean, the man has a whole side business writing “Missing Manual” books explaining how to wring the most out of your Apple products!

“He appears as the talent on Apple ‘geek cruises’ for crying out loud. (Though in his defense, he says he doesn’t take any pay for these gigs, but instead enjoys a discounted cruise vacation for himself and his family.) Oh, and, in the interests of full disclosure, Edward Baig, of USAT, wrote Macs for Dummies and iPhones. And Steven Levy wrote the books Insanely Great: The Life and Times of the Macintosh, the Computer that Changed Everything and The Perfect Thing, a great book about the iPod phenomenon.

“I am sure this had absolutely nothing to do with why Steve Jobs decided to give these guys review units two weeks before the rest of us, who are clearly on the C team (and the C, here, I can tell you, stands for chopped liver.)”

Read more here.

Bancroft heir wants Dow Jones to consider other bidders

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Sarah Ellison and Dennis Berman of The Wall Street Journal write Friday that Leslie Hill, a member of the Bancroft family that controls Dow Jones & Co., is looking for another bidder beside News Corp. CEO Dennis Bancroft to buy the company.

Leslie HillEllis and Berman wrote, “In recent days, she has been scouring the East Coast, trying to drum up other offers for the company her family, the Bancrofts, has controlled for 105 years.

“Ms. Hill has pressed for Dow Jones management to meet with Brian Tierney, who led an investor group to buy the Philadelphia Inquirer last year; she helped encourage a hearing for Brad Greenspan, the co-founder of MySpace.com, who is trying to buy a quarter of Dow Jones; she threw herself into the minutiae of drafting editorial principles to protect the journalistic integrity of The Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones Newswires.

“A retired American Airlines pilot, Ms. Hill, 53 years old, often uses flight analogies to explain the situation facing Dow Jones. ‘If you are flying into an airport, you always have two backup airports in your flight plan,’ she has told some directors, according to someone who heard her. ‘That’s what Dow Jones needs — a backup plan.’”

Read more here.

Wait, forget what I wrote in yesterday's paper

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Richard Perez-Pena of The New York Times writes for Friday’s paper that an editorial oversight committee would have the power to hire and fire top editors at The Wall Street Journal if News Corp. acquires its parent company, Dow Jones & Co.

The New York TimesThat’s the opposite of what Perez-Pena reported on Thursday in a story that said News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch would have the ability to do the hiring and firing.

Perez-Pena wrote, “Under a tentative accord to guard The Wall Street Journal’s editorial integrity in a takeover by Rupert Murdoch, an independent committee would have the power to approve or reject the hiring and firing of top editors, several people briefed on the deal said yesterday — contradicting what another person close to the talks has said.

“Mr. Murdoch’s News Corporation would make the choices, but they could be blocked by the committee, according to these people, who insisted on anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter. Before a deal closes, News Corporation and Dow Jones & Company, owner of The Journal, would jointly select the five founding members of the committee, which would choose people to fill future committee vacancies.

“Though an agreement has been reached on editorial independence, News Corporation and Dow Jones are still negotiating other aspects of Mr. Murdoch’s offer, including the proposed $5 billion price.”

Read more here.