NEW YORK: The transaction that brought Dow Jones and The Wall Street Journal into the hands of News Corp. and Rupert Murdoch is not the grave threat to the newspaper's future that it has been made out to be, according to financial and media PR pros.
The consensus among several experts who have worked closely with the paper was that the widespread fears of the erosion of editorial quality at the Journal are, as one put it, "overblown."
They emphasized the benefits of synergy and financial resources the paper would reap as part of News Corp., now that the controlling Bancroft family has agreed to sell for $5 billion.
The experts also expressed hope that the deal would allow clients to further tailor pitches to appeal to a wider variety of News Corp. properties, from the Journal to Fox News to the upcoming Fox Business Channel.
Billee Howard, EVP of the global strategic media team at Weber Shandwick, said the sale will strengthen all of the News Corp. media properties.
"It's not going to change what the media does, but it creates influence on what all of those properties, collectively, will do," said Howard. "It's a good thing, in that there are many more channels, and it's indicative of the customization of the media market."
One financial PR executive scoffed at the idea that Murdoch would significantly hinder the Journal's journalism, because the range of stories he might conceivably want to censor would be "one-tenth of 1%" of the paper's output.
Another financial PR executive said that while the anxiety among Dow Jones employees was understandable, he doesn't feel the Journal is in any danger of losing its respectability.
Several experts emphasized the threat that the new Journal will pose to The New York Times.
Fred Bratman, EVP of Hyde Park Financial Communications, speculated that the Times and others could explore either a sale or going private in the near future.
"Why are they public companies," Bratman asked, "if their first and foremost concern is for the readers?"