Thursday, May 03, 2007

The Wallaby Street Journal

237 The Wallaby Street Journal

“No worries, mate. We’ll preserve the integrity of the Wall St. Journal,” says Australian-born Rupert “Murder” Murdoch, who became an American citizen to circumvent the law barring foreign nationals from securing broadcast licenses. Sure he’ll preserve things . Just like he did at the London Times, the New York Post, Channel Five in New York and countless other properties that his News Corp. has gobbled up in the last 20 or 25 years.

If Murder gets to buy the paper and its subsidiaries (which doesn’t exactly look like a sure thing in early May of 2007, ) you can bank on changes. It won’t be the London Sun, which has naked women on page three of every edition. No, this time it’ll be those tasteful Journal sketches – of nude brokers, analysts, executive types and high ranking government officials.

The NY Post’s most famous headline “Headless Body In Topless Bar” probably wouldn’t fly, either. unless they’re writing about a vacancy in the lawyers’ trade association.

But you can expect a livelier Journal. Probably a circulation war with USA Today and the New York Times (including a year of newsstand price cuts,) and a leaking of the paper’s right wing editorial pages into the news columns.

It won’t be as brazen as Murder’s TV network, Fox. But it’ll be there.

Then, there’s gossip. All of Murder’s properties do gossip. Cindy Adams will be writing about the latest overheard at the famed watering holes and boom-boom-rooms of Wall Street. We can hardly wait.

(note: the Journal has already done an expose on the gay blade who ran British Petroleum into the ground, so what Murder’s editors and reporters do won’t be THAT far over the top.)

Up until now, the staid old Journal was a mouthpiece for conservatives who weren’t God-crazed neo-cons. Look for that to change. Barney Killgore is whirling in his grave. So, for that matter, is Chucky Dow.

What will the non-religious, conservative business men and women do to learn what they think? They’ll have to turn to Forbes Magazine. Oh. Wait. U-2’s Bono is a partner in an investment company that recently bought 40% of that company. Probably they’ll drift leftward.

The National Review? Already populated by the nut-case school of conservative thinking. Bill Buckley would be rotating in HIS grave, if he were dead.

There is an upside for a small group of people, though: the editors of other financial information publications and data providers, most of whom have spent their entire careers suffering from Journal Envy. There won’t be much left to envy.

The Bankroft family, about 35 surviving members, has owned the paper and Barron’s and a few other things they have in their shop since 1902. They’ve rejected offers before. And they have rejected the initial overture from Murder.

But they did it in such a way that suggests if they got more than the offered $60 a share, or about five billion dollars, they’d sell.

Maybe OWN is too strong a word. They OWN 25%. But they control 60 percent of the votes. And they don’t all get on with one another that well. So, the logical strategy is increase the offer and divide and conquer.

Rupert’s good at both.

I'm Wes Richards, my opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.

(c) 2007 WJR

(note: a shorter version of this was broadcast on my radio program several days in advance of this publication. WJR.)

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