WSJ sale no biggie, say PR pros

I just finished up a news story for the print edition about the reaction from various financial and media PR pros to the sale of...

I just finished up a news story for the print edition about the reaction from various financial and media PR pros to the sale of Dow Jones to News Corp. Does the PR industry share the widespread fears of journalists themselves that Rupert Murdoch will eviscerate the Wall Street Journal's editorial independence, I wondered? What's the assessment of those who work with the paper on behalf of clients every day?

I think the prevailing reaction can be nicely summed up by one PR exec, who called the fears "overblown bullshit."

Most people preferred to stay on background when it came to discussing the most influential business outlet in America, so I'll expand on my piece a little to summarize the key points:

-- Murdoch's a smart guy and a good businessman and he probably won't mess up the quality journalism that makes the WSJ valuable in the first place.

-- Even if he does, he'll only do it a little bit. Not a big deal.

-- If the sale helps the new Fox Business Channel become a strong competitor to CNBC, hey, that's a good thing for PR people. More outlets, more competition for stories, more good placements (I don't think anyone expects Fox Business Channel to be in the hardcore muckraking business).

-- The media is now one step closer to being dominated by a smaller group of mega-titans who own your mind.

-- It's understandable that WSJ reporters and editors are nervous, but really, stop whining. The paper will still need good reporters. If it's too much for you to take, leave.

-- The New York Times better watch its back as Rupert pours money into the Journal. Think about going private, Sulzberger.

-- It's really too early to tell what direction the WSJ will go in. And no matter what that is, PR people will still have jobs to do.

This story is a great example of the different perspectives of those in PR and those in journalism. And on that note, look for a lot of PR firms to hire ex-WSJ reporters in the near future.

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