A Good Deal for Murdoch, A Bad Deal for Democracy

Originally posted at Stop Big Media on July 17, 2007. View the original post here

This morning the Wall Street Journal reported that News Corp. has reached a tentative deal to buy Dow Jones. News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch has led the media consolidation charge, buying up prime media properties, homogenizing content, and spinning the news to serve his business interests and personal ideology. Now one of America’s most widely read and respected financial journals may be about to get the Murdoch treatment.

Free Press founder Robert W. McChesney issued a statement in response to the latest news:

“Rupert Murdoch’s takeover of the Wall Street Journal may not be illegal, but it’s certainly wrong. The cost of giving one company — and one man — this much media power is simply too high.”

The $5 billion deal would give Murdoch control of three of the main outlets that shape the nation’s news agenda: the Fox network, Fox News Channel and the Journal. And this tentative agreement comes on the heels of another big announcement from News Corp. Just last week the company heralded their forthcoming Fox Business Network – with which Murdoch hopes to challenge CNBC.

One can only imagine how the Fox News model might be translated into a business news channel – and even worse to think about how the “Fox Effect” might creep onto the Journal’s news pages. Synergy may make money, but it’s no substitute for serious reporting.

So far, nothing is set in stone. The proposed deal will be presented to the full Dow Jones board later tonight, before going before the Bancroft family for a final vote in the next week or so. McChesney says:

“If they want to protect the editorial integrity of the institution they built, the Bancroft family can still stop this deal from going through. But even if Murdoch’s Journal takeover is derailed at the 11th hour, it should be a wake-up call to anyone who cares about media and democracy. We’re at a critical juncture. We have to understand that our democracy is premised on the existence of an informed citizenry. As the framers understood, that requires a media system that produces quality journalism. We cannot abandon our noble tradition and allow the Murdochs of the world to run the Republic into the ground in their quest for endless profits.”

News Corp.’s bid to acquire Dow Jones Co., whether it is successful or not, reminds us that the battle to Stop Big Media has to continue. We may not be able to change the outcome of this merger, but we can change the policies that allow mergers like this to occur.

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