A wait-and-see mood for WSJ staffers

Marketplace Staff Aug 1, 2007


Doug Krizner: Rupert Murdoch’s has sealed a $5-billion deal to buy Wall Street Journal publisher Dow Jones. Dow’s now part of News Corp’s $70-billion media empire.

A Murdoch takeover was hugely controversial from the start. Especially among members of the family controlling Dow, the Bancrofts.

Let’s bring in Sarah Ellison — she’s a staff reporter for the Wall Street Journal. Sarah, what was this process like for the Bancrofts?

Sarah Ellison: Well, I think this is essentially a family that was all of a sudden waking up to what its legacy was going to be. At a time when the newspaper industry is in… is having a terrible time right now. And it was everyone’s job who was hired to serve their client but also to do what made sense, what was rational — what Wall Street thought was a good idea, what any completely rational person who works at a bank or a law firm would think, “Well this is a no-brainer. You do this deal. It’s an incredible value for shareholders.” And I think that that was sort of the conflict and the calculation that was going on — the family legacy versus the Wall Street deal machine.

Krizner: So the deal was done, and we can look forward now to some kind of change in The Wall Street Journal… What is the mood like right now from where you find yourself?

Ellison: Well, when you say it’ll be a change in The Wall Street Journal — already our managing editor, Marcus Brauchli, has sent out notes to people saying that there won’t be a change at The Wall Street Journal. And I guess that’s the textbook view and everyone hopes that that’s the case.

But the newspaper industry isn’t full of jobs right now, and so even people who would want to leave aren’t necessarily going anywhere. And some people are looking forward to the idea that Dow Jones will have the money now to invest in the areas that it couldn’t invest in before. So I think the mood is just one of waiting and seeing, and some anxiety, because change is difficult for people as well as for century-old institutions.

Krizner: Sarah Ellison is a staff reporter for The Wall Street Journal in New York. Sarah, thanks so much for talking with us.

Ellison: Thank you.

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