A newspaper journalist in an apparently unscripted video grab can sometimes be less than judicious about his choice of words. So it seems for the Wall Street Journal’s M&A reporter Dennis Berman commenting on Rupert Murdoch winning control of his paper and its parent, Dow Jones & Co.

“The family was dragged kicking and screaming to do this deal,” Berman says in a video that can be found on the Dow Jones-owned MarketWatch. He goes on:

Two of the three branches opposed it, which is quite significant, but there were enough voting shares in various locations from those who supported it as well as trustees appointed by the family a long, long time ago to get to those 38 percentage points that were necessary.

But can the credibility of this place be maintained with readers and users of its many products? As a reporter who’s been covering this story, I can tell you the emails roll in and say that if Rupert Murdoch buys the place, I’m going to be cancelling my subscription.

So it’ll be a real fine balance for Rupert Murdoch as he wants to refine and change how things are operated around here, balancing that against a need for both real credibility and perceived credibility from readers.

Oh dear, Dennis, it might be construed that you think all isn’t nice about News Corp. Somewhere down the track, that might prove to be not such a good career move.

But others are more carefully balanced. For example, MarketWatch media columnist Jon Friedman:

Many Dow Jones veterans secretly feel pleased that Murdoch, an aggressive, highly ambitious global businessman, will be running the company now. Above all, the man thinks big and embraces new forms of technologies.

It’s said that Murdoch intends to take the Journal global and make it a truly international must-read daily. He knows a few things about satellite broadcasting; his eagerness to expand to foreign markets will take care of the rest.

Some people who know Murdoch well suspect that he will raise the stakes between the Journal and the New York Times, as they vie for supremacy.

But media writers should rejoice. The prospect of a world war waged between the Journal and the Times looms as an even better story than the saga of Murdoch’s acquisition of Dow Jones.

And local media writers might wonder what a close relationship between Dow Jones & Co and the aggressive business section of The Australian might do to the static Australian Financial Review.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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