Dissing Dow Jones: Disappointed Shareholders Are Now on the Warpath

Article excerpt

YOU ALREADY KNOW THAT THE BULLS behind the Dow Jones industrial average have been partying for a long time. But you may not have noticed that the stock of Dow Jones & Co.--the company that publishes the Dow--has missed the fun. And you probably don't know abem the crowd of journalists, investors and spinmeisters now buzzing around the company and its sad-sack stock. With the latest player to enter the scene, controversial fund manager and columnist James J. Cramer, the mix bas gotten even spicier. Cramer says he has bought more than a million shares for his investors--about 1 percent of the company--and warned Dow Jones chairman Peter Kann that he's on the warpath. Then, in his typically ebullient fashion, he shared this information with friends in the media.

This might be any story about a company whose management could he clueless enough to blow a big, beautiful franchise. But this company puts out The Wall Street Journal, one of the most influential newspapers in the world. And this story will be covered by a small, often incestuous media group whose complex relations with cources and each other rival those of the Beltway crowd.

Dow Jones has stumbled for years, from its clumsy efforts to leverage the Journal name to its much-lambasted management of Telerate, a data service trounced by Reuters and Bloomberg. But while the stock languished, no one wasted much ink on it. The quiet ended in January, when Fortune magazine revealed that Lizzie Goth, a young heiress in Dow Jones's controlling Bancroft family, was beginning to ask the inevitable question: is my inheritance safe? At her side was Ira Millstein, a lawyer known among the corporate elite for helping oust the CEO of General Motors, among others. …