The more I read and think about this, the more I come to the interpretation that Rupert sees in the Wall Street Journal a chance to build a paper that could be his version of a New York Times. One that’s probably more focused in content, but global in scope.
Don’t believe me? Ask the man himself.
What he said about the Journal when interviewed onstage at a BusinessWeek sponsored conference in February (I’m plucking this from BusinessWeek’s cover story on the matter):
“I’m worried about it,” the News Corp. CEO told BusinessWeek. “I’d do something different to what they have done…. I think The Journal’s opportunity is that it has a wonderful brand and that it could really go after The New York Times on significant world and national news. This is me theorizing about it. I don’t think we’ll ever get it. I don’t think they’ll sell it.”
What he told the New York Times today:
The editorial pages? He likes them but would like to see more political coverage in the news pages. “I might put more emphasis on Washington,” he said. He’s not a huge fan of the Saturday Journal begun in 2005, but he would continue it and look at converting its Pursuits section into a glossy weekend magazine to compete with The New York Times Sunday Magazine.
He talked about revitalizing The Journal’s editions in Europe and Asia, which have been depleted of resources. He also suggested that globalization would make The Journal even more important internationally — he said millions of people in India and China represented a huge opportunity, not to be squandered. Mr. Murdoch said recent changes by management like scaling back international editions were made for “efficiency” and that his company would “be coming from a different point of view to develop a paper that provides management and journalists more resources and more investment.”
And this from today’s Wall Street Journal:
The media conglomerate run by Rupert Murdoch is considering making its case to journalists detailing the company’s plans for capital investment, people close to News Corp. say. News Corp. would address a number of issues in its discussion, such as beefing up staffing levels in international news bureaus and putting more capital behind the company’s electronic properties, said one person close to News Corp.
As for focus, he also tells the Times:
“I’m sometimes frustrated by the long stories,” he said, adding that he rarely gets around to finishing some articles.
In sum: More competitive pressures for the New York Times. Just what they need!