Magazine article Editor & Publisher

'WSJ' Publisher Promises 'Honest' Journalism

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

'WSJ' Publisher Promises 'Honest' Journalism

Article excerpt

In a letter to readers today, L. Gordon Crovitz, publisher of the Wall Street Journal, asks them -- and media critics -- to cast aside doubts about news coverage coming from the paper under the expected new ownership of Rupert Murdoch and his News Corp. He calls claims that his conservative political views will adjust coverage a "bias" of its own.

Critics have also charged that Murdoch's business interests may influence coverage, and some say that his political views have caused unbalanced coverage at some of his news outlets, including Fox News.

Excerpts follow.

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What would a sale mean to the Journal and, most importantly, to readers? You will make the ultimate judgment, but the talented and committed journalists who produce the Journal have a simple plan. They will aim to do what they have done for more than a century: Earn and keep the trust of the world's most demanding readers by delivering the most essential news and analysis ...

Readers can rely on this: The same standards of accuracy, fairness and authority will apply to this publication, regardless of ownership. Our reporters and editors feel an especially strong obligation because the Journal, from the beginning, redefined financial and business journalism ...

Why do we consider the integrity of business and financial journalism to be even more important than for many forms of general-interest news?

Our readers must be able to trust that our facts are right. Livelihoods depend on it, and capital is deployed because of it. Even beyond that, our readers must also be able to trust that the analysis, perspective and context we apply to facts -- forms of interpretive journalism our readers expect, but few beyond the Journal can practice -- reflect only the honest assessment of our journalists. Readers equally must trust that our opinions, agree or disagree, reflect only the honest view of Journal editorial writers, rooted in a consistent set of principles that the Journal has adhered to for decades.

Any buyer of Dow Jones knows that the foundation of value is the trust of readers in the brands and the journalism. Indeed, the first topic discussed by News Corp. Chairman and Chief Executive Rupert Murdoch with the Bancroft family in their negotiations was the importance of accurate and independent journalism. Mr. Murdoch told the Bancrofts that "any interference -- or even hint of interference -- would break the trust that exists between the paper and its readers, something I am unwilling to countenance. Apart from breaching the public's trust, it would simply be bad business."

To this end, News Corp. and the Bancrofts agreed on standards modeled on the long-standing Dow Jones Code of Conduct. These include:

* Facts are accurate and fairly presented; * Analyses represent the publications' best independent judgments rather than their preferences, or those of their owner, sources, advertisers or information providers; * Opinions represent only the applicable publication's own editorial philosophies centered around the core principle of "free people and free markets"; * There are no hidden agendas in any journalist undertakings; and * Accuracy and fairness extends to coverage of any real or perceived business interests of News Corp. A special committee will be charged with helping ensure that these standards apply to all Dow Jones publications and services. …

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