Unlike Dean Starkman, I see nothing other than actual business realities (and keep an eye out for WSJ performance in that link) in the previously-floated notion that an independent DJ equals likely WSJ layoffs later this year. And I can’t imagine that a Pearson/GE combination would have been able to avoid massive cost cuts. What were the other options—Microsoft? The vaporous bid suggested by Brad Greenspan, the value of which hinged to a distressing degree on the success of a new business channel to compete with CNBC and Fox Business News? (Disclosure: I am a CNBC contributor.)
A WSJer I talked to today more or less agreed. This person said that he/she didn’t feel any worse today than yesterday, when it briefly appeared that the deal might fall apart. In a real world with real-world options on the table, Murdoch is the least-bad way to go.
Murdoch has shown great patience with money-losing papers (see: the Times of London; New York Post), which helps if you’re coming to a marginally-profitable (at best) WSJ and have plans to take on the New York Times in the US and the Financial Times in Europe. What Murdoch has yet to do, though, is fully acknowledge the reality of newspapering today—that is, the need to remake it. The New York Post is not losing money because of massive investment in the Web, as a glance at nypost.com readily reveals.
I’ll have a lot more to say about that particular point about Murdoch in my next BusinessWeek column.