Saturday, June 02, 2007

Countdown to Murdoch

There's been a blizzard of coverage over the past couple of days concerning -- let's cut to the chase here -- the upcoming surrender of Dow Jones to Rupert Murdoch.

One of the best pieces was by Jack Shafer in Slate, cutting through all the crap and making a point that needs to be emphasized: Whatever his promises, Murdoch will transform the Wall Street Journal as much as he wants.

Jack is blunt as usual ("rotten old bastard" is tough even by my standards). However, while I agree with his general point, I think what he misses is that the New York Post, by almost any standard you can imagine, improved under Murdoch.

Is it more sensational, less responsible now? Nope. One of my favorite New York Post page one headlines, from 1971 I believe, declared "Peace between Israel and Jordan." Only 23 years premature.

The Post today has a larger news "hole" than it did under the former publisher Dorothy Schiff, and a substantially improved business section that regularly achieves news beats. The editorial page has, of course, drifted rightward. What do you expect? But I think you'd be hard pressed to argue that the Post under Murdoch is a worse paper than it was under Schiff.

Don't get me wrong -- I hope Murdoch doesn't grab the Journal. But I know a lost cause when I see one.

(And yes, that's VanDyke's Saint Jude on the right.)

© 2007 Gary Weiss. All rights reserved.

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Wall Street Versus America was published by Penguin USA on April 6.
Click here for its Amazon.com listing and here for more information on the book, from my web site, gary-weiss.com.

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