News Corp. Makes Monster Takeover Bid For Dow Jones

from the read-all-about-it dept

While it's not an offer from Yahoo, Dow Jones (publisher of The Wall Street Journal and other financial news outlets), has received an unsolicited takeover bid from News Corp. Rupert Murdoch and Co. are offering $5 billion for the company -- a premium of 65 percent over Dow Jones' closing share price Monday. Some of that premium has disappeared, though, as shares have shot up more than 50 percent today. The company says management and the Bancroft family, its controlling shareholder, are considering the offer, but it's hard to see how they could refuse it, though there's speculation it could set off a bidding war. A News Corp.-DJ tie-up could make a lot of sense, once you get over the disconnect between MySpace and the WSJ. News Corp.'s roots are in newspaper publishing, and its recent push to beef up its online offerings would be bolstered by the content Dow Jones generates, in addition to DJ's strong existing online properties. Another interesting issue the offer raises is how many newspaper companies' ownership structure may be holding them back. The Bancroft family essentially owns all of Dow Jones' class B shares, which carry ten times the voting power of ordinary share, giving them control of the company. The New York Times Company and The Washington Post Co. also have similar ownership structures, which are coming under fire from investors. Backers of such ownership schemes say they're necessary to ensure the companies' commitment to quality journalism, though at this point they seem more crucial to ensure the owners' healthy egos than anything else. The contention that "quality journalism" is at automatically at odds with traditional public ownership or profit-driven private ownership isn't true. In fact, it seems more likely that many newspapers' idea of what they should be doing is an anachronism that's fallen out of step with the market, hence their general lack of success in the internet age -- and a change in their old-style ownership and control structures may be necessary to change their fortunes. Update: Rather unsurprisingly, the Bancroft family says it won't support the offer. However, in after-hours trading, Dow Jones shares haven't pulled back too much, so the market must believe some sort of deal will still happen.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Shandon Fowler, May 1st, 2007 @ 11:45am

    Misunderstood Journalism

    While I think a case can be made for "traditional public ownership or profit-driven private ownership" of media not hurting "quality journalism," I don't think you've made it. And your assertion that the shareholder tussles at the Times have more to do with ego than rationality shows an incredible lack of understanding for the business of journalism (a profession you've chosen, no less) and, in particular, the way journalism works at papers like the Times, Post, and Journal. The whole point is that newspapers, which are explicitly considered in the Constitution, unlike corporations, SHOULDN'T be expected to follow the ups and downs of "the market." In fact, current profitability problems with newspapers online have much more to do with their massive overhead (which keeps your site running in no small way as well) and the continued slow move of traditional print advertisers moving online as well as relative lower advertising rates. If it weren't for those publications like the Times and the Associated Press (which, by the way, is a nonprofit collective), you would have either nothing to report on or nothing worth reporting on because it's so rife with half-truths and inaccuracies (that's what massive overhead gets you--fact-checking and broader focuses on "unprofitable" news). In other words, the market isn't God, it's just a god, and newspapers shouldn't fall under their jurisdiction.

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 1st, 2007 @ 11:50am

    Re: Misunderstood Journalism

    If it weren't for those publications like the Times and the Associated Press (which, by the way, is a nonprofit collective), you would have either nothing to report on or nothing worth reporting on because it's so rife with half-truths and inaccuracies (that's what massive overhead gets you--fact-checking and broader focuses on "unprofitable" news).

    AHAHAHHAHAHAHAAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

    Thats funny.

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    squik, May 1st, 2007 @ 12:43pm

    Faux Street Journal

    It should disturb anyone to think that the WSJ will fall under the same ideological viewpoint as Fox News. Fox News is the mouthpiece of the RNC, pumping out propaganda to support Bush and the RNC. With Fox there is no line between opinion and reporting. In short, they have no credibility.

    The WSJ on the other hand is conservative and reasoned. They report from a conservative view with a reasoned approach. They do well at separating opinion from reporting.

    What will the Faux Street Journal look like? To me, it will look like an opportunity for competition to stomp a venerable old name into the ground.

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    RandomThoughts, May 1st, 2007 @ 1:01pm

    "a premium of 65 percent over Dow Jones' closing share price Monday. Some of that premium has disappeared, though, as shares have shot up more than 50 percent today."

    Its still a premium, as the shares shot up because of the bid.

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased), May 1st, 2007 @ 1:14pm

    Re: Faux Street Journal

    Bush only has FOX. All the liberals and Dems have all the rest of the media which are full of opinion that it makes me wretch. So this should be more competition. News outlets have stopped speaking facts long ago. So shut your hole!

     

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  6.  
    icon
    chris (profile), May 1st, 2007 @ 1:20pm

    Re: Misunderstood Journalism

    (that's what massive overhead gets you--fact-checking and broader focuses on "unprofitable" news).

    yeah right. like the great job the new york times and the washington post did on the intelligence failure that was the buildup for the war in iraq. lots of fact checking there. it was a model of responsible journalism.

    you can read all about it here.

    that's why concern with profits creates problems for news outlets. if there really is a massive overhead for fact checking and impeccible reputations, well then a lot of american news papers are wasting their money.

    when you are making and selling things in a factory, cutting costs to boost profits is a great idea. in a news outlet, cutting costs by quoting so-called "experts" and getting exclusives with less than reputable sources instead of paying real journalists to do real investigative journalism is not responsible.

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    GoblinJuice, May 1st, 2007 @ 1:20pm

    Cash + Ass = Much Happiness

    Does this mean we might see FoxNews-Channel-level babes (eg: Molly Henneberg, Laurie Dhue, Megyn Kelly) walking around the pit? ;-)

     

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  8.  
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    SFGary, May 1st, 2007 @ 4:18pm

    That's just peachy, from a right wing slant we'll get an extremely right wing viewpoint. If Murdoch and gang were even more right wing they'll be the mouthpiece for a fascist government...wait! the timing is just right.

    The only good reason to read the WSJ is for all other news than politics.

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    Yet Another anonymous coward, May 2nd, 2007 @ 6:51am

    Fox is mis-understood as a news agency

    They aren't part of a conspiracy directly - they are simply trying to make a profit, and do it fast. The result just resembles a conspiracy.

    Now I have another, worse nightmare for you. Rup's entities swap resources around. Fox had a lease on space for Ryan Seacrest, canceled the show, and now TV Guide is using that for the TV Guide Channel (now Network) studio.

    TV Guide recently replace Joan and Mellisa Rivers with Lisa Rinna. Could you imagine WSJ picking up Joan Rivers to do reviews from the trading floor, for the remainder of her contract?

    Maybe we'll even get stock quotes on the TV Guide Network...Rup could even do his version of a Cramer show...

     

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