Dow Jones Co. Inc., owners of The Wall Street Journal, received an unusual and surprising offer this morning. According to CNBC, Rupert Murdoch and his company News Corp. offered $60 a share for all outstanding shares in order to purchase the preeminent newspaper company. The asking price for a share of Dow Jones Co. at the time of the proposal was a little over $36. This comes out to an estimated $5 billion if Dow Jones accepts.
I can understand News Corp.’s plan. Buy up the financial paper, plus Dow Jones Newswire, MarketWatch and Barron’s around the same time it plans to launch a business news channel under the Fox name. This would give Murdoch and his company a quick, albeit expensive path into the business news world.
As for Dow Jones Co. and the majority owners, the Bancroft family, I can also understand why you would sell. Murdoch, owner of the New York Post and others, is vastly overpaying for your product. Plus, the newspaper industry has struggled in recent years with circulation decreasing. Why not get out of the industry by selling the Journal at a premium?
I seriously hope you don’t though. WSJ is a star among papers. Number two in circulation behind USA Today, but the WSJ does not provide every hotel in America with a copy on the doorstep. In my eyes it is the number one truly circulated paper. The reporting is unmatched, and stories compelling. They can make everyday business stories gripping, which is hard to do on a constant deadline.
What will this company look like if Murdoch gets a hold of it? the New York Post?
The Bancroft family does not just have the burden of protecting the Journal. But they have the obligation to protect the entire newspaper industry. In the long run it is probably not salvageable, but they can at least protect the number one entity within the industry.
If this deal goes through, and celebrity gossip begins to show up on page one, then the end is near for the newspaper. All any credible paper has right now is the respectability that the industry has built for the past centuries. But if you take away the legitimacy and respect of the most respected of newspapers, then the end of the road is drawn, and newspapers will soon cease to have relevance. And without importance the newspaper has no meaning or reason to be sold. Therefore, all papers would soon die with Murdoch wearing the proverbial execution mask.