More Groundless Journalistic Handwringing Over Murdoch And Dow Jones

The more CJR’s Dean Starkman fulminates and tut-tuts about the prospect of a Murdoch-owned Wall Street Journal, the more I become convinced the deal will actually go through.

But never mind that. Today Starkman’s once again on a tear:

This New York Times piece from Monday says an unnamed person connected to Dow Jones management and unnamed senior editors at The Wall Street Journal are promising job cuts if the News Corp. offer isn’t accepted.


I know it’s subtle, but let me translate: Newsroom, stop opposing the sale or you’ll lose your jobs, and then where will you be? Without a job. And then how will you feel? Bad, right?

Uhm — what?

Do members of the newsroom have a few board votes that no one knows about?

Does Starkman, or anyone, actually believe for a second that newsroom opposition might have any bearing on whether or not a Dow Jones deal gets done?

The Wall Street Journal (while fabulous and beloved, etc.) was, at best, very marginally profitable last year—we’re talking supermarket-esque profit margins at a publicly traded newspaper company, one that would margins at a sector laggard like the New York Times Co. look like Gannett’s. Sorry to self-quote, but this is from a recent column:

(The consumer media unit, for which a Deutsche Bank (DB ) analyst estimates the Wall Street Journal supplies around 80% of revenue, posted profit margins of 3% in ‘06. It lost money in ‘05.)

In ‘02, the segment housing the Journal lost money as well.

Correct me if I’m wrong, bu when your costs start to match or, worse, outweigh your revenue, you have to do something. What, management’s just supposed to sit and twiddle thumbs, just because the Journal’s a gorgeous bit of print journalism?


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