JO: Not so much. I think he did a very good job with Dow Jones…turning the company around in the last six years. I don’t think he’s the black hat that the news side thinks he is. Of course, he had to cut back costs; $250 million dollars of expenses are not taken out of the company without making enemies. And that was a tough thing. But I think he did it with as much grace and good judgment and protection of the quality of the papers as possible. He even found ways to enhance it. I think the WSJ is a better newspaper today under this new format (with a greater emphasis on news analysis). I think (the ill will against him among family members was caused in part by) the way he presented the case to the board of directors. He’s being criticized for being too critical of Dow Jones…of his own strategic plans. (He over-emphasized) the concerns he has. So it may appear to some that he lost faith in what he’s doing.
TA: Ten years ago, News Corp. was not the player it is today. With the right management, could someone take Dow Jones to become a media powerhouse in ten years?
JO: I would be more modest in my ambitions. It could be a successful, viable, healthy, profitable, smaller, leaner company—smaller than Time Warner and News Corp. It had a good year last year. It was one of the only newspaper companies that had advertising-revenue increases, circulation increases, increases in the online edition, profit up 13 percent. It wasn’t in [the condition] of some other newspaper companies…because people like Rich and Peter Kann had been building the electronic businesses to the point where it was about 40 percent of the operating income of Dow Jones—far higher than electronic businesses of the New York Times or Washington Post. I’m afraid that it’s fear itself that’s driving the sale of the Bancroft family.
TA: With a shareholder vote all but inevitable, what do you say publicly to the Bancrofts?
JO:I am saying privately to many of the Bancrofts, and would say publicly: We should not sell Dow Jones and Ottaway Newspapers to Rupert Murdoch. If some of the family members want to sell their Dow Jones shares, let us find a way to buy them out that is not damaging to Dow Jones and its reputation for absolute integrity in reporting and analyzing global business news. Let us find new investors to help us build the company, and not sell it to a company like News Corp, whose core business is entertainment, and whose newspapers are either tabloid fluff or weapons to enhance the business and political interests of Rupert Murdoch.
1. Losing out to General Electric Co. in the 1991 sale of Financial News Network, which became CNBC.
2. A financial-data provider DJ bought in stages in the late 1980s, written down in 1997 and eventually sold at losses exceeding $1 billion.
3. , A partner at law firm Holme Roberts & Owen LLP in Denver serves as trustee for at least one of the Bancroft family trusts.
4. For a full breakdowns of shares and ownership, click here.
5. The former chief of the parent of networking site Myspace sent a letter to DJ’s board offering to buy about 25% of the common shares at $60 a share.