I have kept my counsel on Rupert Murdoch buying Dow Jones because I don’t think it matters a whole lot. The editorial stance of The Wall Street Journal can’t possibly be any more right wing than it is, and I don’t think Murdoch is quite the barbarian some make him out to be where editorial quality is concerned.
What I do find ludicrous, however, are the many comments that the reason why Murdoch wants Dow Jones is to improve his credibility. That was the line taken by Dennis Kneale, managing editor of Forbes, on the excellent Marketplace radio program yesterday. “It instantly takes a guy who is dismissed as this Australian-born U.S. citizen, a tabloid-press lord, and gives him credibility by owning one of the best journalistic brands in the entire world. It’ll be a good deal for that reason.”
For many years now, Murdoch has been able to walk into any world leader’s office or pick up the phone and speak to any CEO. His achievements in building one of the world’s major media groups give him vast credibility where it matters to him. I don’t think Murdoch is seeking credibility, enhanced stature or visibility. He wants to make even more money. He thinks he knows how to make the WSJ profitable, how to exploit its brand globally and how to use it to enhance the financial results of the rest of his empire.
There are plenty of media barons in the business primarily for proximity to power or prestige. Conrad Black certainly fits that bill. And Murdoch certainly doesn’t shy away from playing power games. But it’s all in aid of filling his coffers. Which is something he has proved to be very good at.