Monday, June 04, 2007


Would you believe the assurances of this man to the Wall Street Journal? Should Rupert Murdoch buy the company from the founding family, everyone believes there will be changes. The question is how much he will change editorial content to his own vision of what a newspaper should be. There is evidence that his view of the world and the Journal's don't coincide in some areas, particularly in reporting on China.

But, it is important to remember that the history of journalism in the US is one of individual voices more than "objective" reporting. That was true of Horace Greeley, Joseph Pulitzer, William Randolph Hearst, Colonel Robert McCormick and others. The difference today is that individual voices are counterbalanced by an enormous news flow from around the world on the internet. So, even if Murdoch decides the Journal will change, readers have alternatives. Murdoch knows that. My guess is changes would come slowly with a focus first on profitability. This, however, may impact directly Dow Jones' coverage of business around the globe. News bureaus have been shrinking in US newspapers. There is little reason to believe they wouldn't shrink at the Journal.

What does this mean to PR? The editorial independence that we rely on is becoming more difficult to access. There are already companies of a billion dollars or less that rarely get news coverage. While this isn't new, it is becoming more of a challenge to PR practitioners. We have been driven to alternate -- and perhaps, less desirable -- media because that is the best we can achieve. There are many good stories that aren't being told to a general business readership through traditional media already. There will be more.


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