The endgame appears to be near in the Rupert Murdoch-Dow Jones drama. Yesterday, it was reported that the two sides have come to an agreement over what changes Murdoch would be allowed to make should he assume control of the company. At this point, it all comes down to whether or not the Bancroft family is ready to pull the trigger and actually cede ownership of the company. Assuming the deal does go through, it's natural to wonder what a Murdoch-led Dow Jones would look like. In an interview with Time Magazine (via Romenesko), Murdoch rehashes the standard rhetoric about how it would be foolish to destroy an asset (as many fear) that cost him $5 billion to acquire. Later in the interview, he tosses out the idea of spending $100 million to hire the top 200 business journalists in the world, while turning the Wall Street Journal into a free, online-only newspaper. This isn't the kind of plan that's likely to happen at any point in the near term, but it does reflect a willingness to think creatively. Of course, the idea still rests on the basic notion that the key to a successful media company is to be the owner of the best content. A paper like the Wall Street Journal can do better with this approach than most, because quality business journalism remains valuable. But over time, a strategy based on paying enormous sums to consolidate the world's best business journalism won't be able to overcome the ongoing deflation in the value of content.
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