Now that he’s got it, the time has come to take Rupert Murdoch at his word.
He has said that he intends to build up The Wall Street Journal, not dumb it down. He has said that he will strengthen the Washington bureau, not reduce it through layoffs and buyouts, as so many other publishers are doing. He says he wants more coverage of politics and government, more international news, more reporters on big stories, more inter-action between the paper and its website, more synergy with broadcast outlets, more imagination on page one.
Bring it on, Rupert. It is a great opportunity to prove your critics wrong. And frankly, The Journal could use all of the above. It is good today, but not great, not nearly as bright and original as it used to be.
And that editorial page? It is the most predictable, knee-jerk, reactionary opinion column in America. You may agree with its positions, Rupert, but even you have to admit that its view of the world is so distorted by idealogy that it rarely judges events or people on the merits. Shake it up, surprise us with new columnists with a range of views, re-design it to draw readers in, not drive them away.
You have talked about selling off Dow Jones’ smaller newspapers and some of its other assets. That is an owner’s privilege. But what will you do with the cash? You could use it to buy down debt and pay off the Bancroft Family’s expenses.
But if you take the money and plough it back into the product, if you seize the opportunity to challenge the New York Times in foreign and national coverage, if you enhance the website and make it free, if you demonstrate that a newspaper, yes a newspaper, can find new ways to make money, then you will have done the world a favor, as well as yourself.
Go ahead, Rupert, prove that you are not the hack your critics say you are.
You’ll enjoy the last, best laugh.