Your Ad Here

Sunday, April 20, 2008

NEWSWEEK: Murdoch's Wall Street Journal Set to Challenge New York Times; Bloomberg Associates Encouraging Mayor to Buy the Times

When readers open their Wall Street Journals Monday morning, they will discover a newspaper fashioned to the tastes of the man who revolutionized media markets from Australia to North America. With its increased focus on politics, international news, culture and sports, Rupert Murdoch's reconceived Journal represents nothing short of a formal declaration of war on that most venerable of journalistic institutions, The New York Times, Newsweek reports in the current issue. The fight could escalate in unknown ways if billionaire New York Mayor
Michael Bloomberg ends up acquiring the Times. As Newsweek has learned, top associates of the onetime information executive are encouraging him to do just that.

In Newsweek interviews last week, a member of Bloomberg's inner circle confirmed that the mayor's confidants and closest associates are, in fact, encouraging him to explore the idea of a Bloomberg-New York Times merger, reports senior writer Johnnie Roberts in the April 28 issue of Newsweek (on newsstands Monday, April 21). The Bloomberg source wasn't authorized to
publicly discuss the matter and, as a result, insisted on anonymity.

Through a spokesman, Bloomberg declined to comment. According to the source, the proponents of the merger are appealing to the mayor's sense of "civic-mindedness," arguing that he is best suited to take the publishing company private to "help protect the brand" in the wake of relentless shareholder assaults. "It is clearly a brand that Bloomberg could help preserve and that he cares about immensely ... and could pay a competitive price" for, says this person.

Murdoch, for one, sees a natural fit between Bloomberg and the Journal's uptown rival. Bloomberg, he notes, has pledged to remain a force in national public life after leaving New York's city hall at the end of next year. To that end, owning the Times would help immensely, Murdoch reasons. Yet the prospect of competing against a Bloomberg-owned Times
appears to rattle him. "I wouldn't look forward to going up against him," Murdoch tells Newsweek, citing his "great respect for Bloomberg's business abilities."

Roberts also looks at whom Murdoch will support for president and whether The Wall Street Journal, which hasn't endorsed a candidate since Herbert Hoover, will do so now. Murdoch's New York Post not only endorsed Illinois Sen. Barack Obama in New York's primary, but it also criticized Sen. Hillary Clinton, with whom it was assumed Murdoch was now friendly.

Why did Murdoch turn cold on Clinton? "She's been a good senator for New York," he told Newsweek recently. "It doesn't mean she'd make a good president." While he lauds Clinton's "terrific mastery of details and issues," Murdoch says, "I'm against a lot of her big national issues."

He says he's worried that the senator will make the United States more of "a dependency society" like the United Kingdom was before Margaret Thatcher, of whom he was an ardent supporter. "Government should not be too big," he says. Interpretation: Clinton, despite her centrist message, remains too liberal for Murdoch. Clinton's camp rejects the view. "I don't
know what evidence he has to that effect," Harold Ickes, a Clinton strategist, told Newsweek on Friday. "I don't know what he would look to in terms of her policies that she's proposing that he could draw that conclusion." As for the Post's nod to Obama, that appears to have been a
calculated attempt by Murdoch to do his part to prolong a great horse race. "I said, 'Let's make a race of it'," he said.

Many media-industry watchers, journalists and communications experts argue that the Journal will never pose much of a threat to the Times's franchise, Roberts reports. In fact, the changes could damage the Journal brand. "Turning a paper into an old-fashioned variety show -- we have a little of everything -- I don't think is the route to success," says a former senior Dow Jones executive. "The risk you run is that you are not best at anything." But the same critics also warn that "it's never a good time to have to confront someone like Murdoch, who doesn't care about making money on a particular product," says newspaper analyst John Morton.

New York Times CEO Janet Robinson says that the Times is prepared for the confrontation with Murdoch. "The New York Times," she told analysts, "has had broad coverage for 156 years now, and from that perspective we are far advanced in the type of journalism we create and the
type of advertising we bring into the paper."

Watch more breaking news now on our video feed:

Bookmark and drop back in sometime.

Labels: , , , , ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home