Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

How Powerful Is Citizen Murdoch Now?

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

How Powerful Is Citizen Murdoch Now?

Article excerpt

With Rupert Murdoch's $5 billion acquisition of Dow Jones & Co., he is set to be established as one of America's most powerful media barons - a man whose sway stretches from the teens who watch "The Simpsons" to the financiers of Wall Street, from New York's City Hall to the White House.

But unlike past media moguls - such as William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer, whose newspapers' sensationalist reporting may have pushed the nation into the Spanish-American War - media owners today may find it more difficult to sway national opinion, some experts say. With the advent of the Internet, information percolates to the public from thousands of sources. Cable or satellite TV allows Americans to choose everything from the BBC to Bloomberg Television.

"He has a huge empire as we look at it internationally, but it's not really the case that he is that dominant in the newspaper world in America," says Rick Edmonds, a media analyst at the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, Fla. "But there is a host of reasons to be apprehensive: He's a willful guy and has thrown his weight around in the past and may do so again." Mr. Murdoch is likely to leave his biggest mark on financial news. The US print edition of The Wall Street Journal - part of the Dow Jones stable - reaches 1.7 million readers each day. Global paid circulation is more than 2.7 million.

"The Wall Street Journal is a dominant force, the single most import source of financial journalism," says Mr. Edmonds.

The Journal purchase may eventually fit into Murdoch's plans for an on-air financial news network, set to start this fall. However, at the moment, Dow Jones has an agreement that Journal reporters will appear on CNBC, a potential competitor to Murdoch's new network. "In the short run, he will have to buy out the CNBC contract to draw on the resources of the brand," says Edmonds.

Financial news on television has been a tough sell. CNN shut down its financial network because of low ratings and an aggressive move by Murdoch to raise the rates that CNNfn paid for using his satellites. Fortune magazine has tried, unsuccessfully, several shows including a version of "Wall Street Week."

"There have been a lot of attempts to translate print to the television format, but it's not a guaranteed success," says Edmonds.

Murdoch may also have his hands full managing the Journal, winner of 31 Pulitzer Prizes. During the three-month takeover battle, many Journal reporters sent letters to the Bancroft family, the longtime owner of Dow Jones, asking it not to sell the paper. "As this drama has unfolded, there has been anxiety among the staff, and you can be sure some will leave," says Steve Davis, chair of the newspaper department at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communication at Syracuse University in New York.

"Let's say 10 percent of the workforce leaves," says Mr. …

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