I think London bureau chief Bruce Orwall, who wrote the story and presumably conducted the interview Nocera is exercised about, worked with what he had in a bad situation, and that wasn’t much. But he still got some real value out of it. Here’s Orwall’s second paragraph:
In an interview, Mr. Murdoch said News Corp. has handled the crisis “extremely well in every way possible,” making just “minor mistakes.”
I understand how that could be perceived as Pravda-esque, but I really don’t think it was. It reads to me like the Journal gave Rupert enough rope to hang himself—in this instance with an astonishing quote showing the old man is either off his head or thinks we are, or both.
It’s not much of a stretch to think that that quote was one of the things that forced News Corp.’s board to finally assert itself.
Again, we’ve kept as close an eye as anyone on what Murdoch’s done to the Journal, and been loud about what’s gone wrong. I can understand to some extent why folks like Nocera, along with Barry Ritholtz and others, have thrown up their hands.
We’ve never given up on the Journal, and we still haven’t. It’s too important an institution. And we praise their good stuff their all the time. These days, the paper is in a minefield and deserves extra scrutiny.
But is it Fox News or even anything approaching Fox News? No, and it’s not even close. You’ll know when the paper is totally gone when it becomes more of a political operation than a journalistic one.
If there’s a silver lining from this whole mess, it’s the prospect, which looks likelier by the day, that Murdoch will have to step down or be forced to sell his newspapers. Don’t buy the nonsense that Murdoch is the only person willing to invest in The Wall Street Journal without gutting its newsroom.
He was the only one willing to overpay by $3 billion or so back in 2007, and News Corp. had to write down that overpayment fourteen months later. You’d have to guess the going price today would be something closer to $2 billion and maybe even lower. No one could hope to make a profit buying Dow Jones for $5.6 billion, but shave two-thirds off the price and I’d bet you’d have some bidders.
Although the idea of Bloomberg or Reuters, say, further consolidating the business press wouldn’t thrill me, either would be a far better home for Dow Jones than inside News Corporation. Even better would be Jeff Jarvis’s idea of Rupert setting it up as an independent trust like The Guardian “to rescue the last shred of his legacy.”
Hey, one can dream.