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Dow Jones staff abuzz with news of offer from Rupert Murdoch to buy the company

Dow Jones staff abuzz with news of offer from Rupert Murdoch to buy the company

As head of the bargaining committee at Dow Jones & Co.'s union, longtime Wall Street Journal reporter E.S. "Jim" Browning has been focusing on health care costs and other contract issues. But news that Rupert Murdoch wants to buy the company was all he and many of his colleagues could talk about Tuesday.
While Murdoch's proposal faces rough going since Dow Jones' controlling shareholders said they would vote against it, that didn't stop talk of potential ownership by Murdoch's global media conglomerate News Corp. _ which includes Fox News Channel, the Fox broadcast network and MySpace _ from gripping the Journal's newsroom.
Browning, who has worked at the paper for 28 years and served as a correspondent in Europe and Asia, said groups of reporters could be seen gathering together to talk about the offer and huddling around televisions to soak up every news update they could.
"That's all people are talking about today," Browning said. "What people are saying about it is that it's a really bad idea."
"The No. 1 topic of conversation is no longer the contract," Browning said. "It's the independence of the company." Ownership by News Corp., he said, "would be a real threat to the institution, and it would be hard to imagine that it would survive intact if it were sold off to a media empire."
In an interview with Neil Cavuto on Fox News Channel, Murdoch said he hoped the controlling Bancroft family would consider the offer and that his company would be fine stewards of the newspaper. He said the Journal could do more to increase its circulation and presence online as part of a larger media company.
The Bancrofts have been resistant to selling Dow Jones and can block any attempt to take it over since they control the shareholder vote. Dow Jones said late Tuesday that the Bancrofts would vote shares representing just over 50 percent of the company's voting power against the deal.
Dow Jones has long prided itself on its independence. While its editorial page's politically conservative outlook may be in alignment with Murdoch's own views, many at the company oppose the idea of being subsumed into a large media conglomerate.
The union at Dow Jones, the Independent Association of Publishers' Employees, officially lashed out at Murdoch's proposal Tuesday, saying it was opposed by Dow Jones staff "from top to bottom."
Murdoch's News Corp. started out in newspapers but now has major interests in television and entertainment. The company still owns many newspapers in Australia and in England, where it owns both the racy tabloid The Sun as well as The Times, which is far more upscale.
Despite his ownership of many mainstream newspapers, Murdoch is often associated with the sensationalism of his tabloids, such as The Sun, which publishes pictures of topless women on its third page, or the New York Post, which has never lived down its timeless headline of "Headless Body in Topless Bar."
James Brady, who founded the New York Post's hugely popular and influential gossip column, Page Six, said in an interview with The Associated Press that if Murdoch were to win control of Dow Jones, he would make his mark known, but not overly so.
"He's an intelligent man _ He knows the value and power of The Wall Street Journal," said Brady, reached at his home in East Hampton, New York, where he is finishing a new book. "You won't see Page Three girls or Page Six in the Journal, but he's not going to buy a property and let other people run it."
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AP Business Writer Jeremy Herron contributed to this report.


Updated : 2021-08-03 19:30 GMT+08:00