Wednesday, May 02, 2007

The business deal that could shake business reporting

First purchase, Dow Jones. Second purchase, the world.

Rupert Murdoch made an offer to buy Dow Jones this week and his proposal is stirring up the news industry. Not only would he add Dow Jones, but he would add a large property in The Wall Street Journal. He would likely create a business reporting channel in the vein of CNBC (which it seems like he's going to do anyway). And then News Corp would become too large for the planet and it would have to start its own.

Last month Sam Zell bought the Tribune Company and all of its entities. There is some thought his early plans include improving Web offerings. From the speculation that I've read about the Murdoch deal, a heavier Internet presence isn't far from his mind, either.

Is this good or bad for journalists? Internet reporting appears to be the wave of the future, and Murdoch wants to catch his before it breaks on the beach. Surely there will be more opportunities, but it will change the way business is reported. Speed is vital in business reporting and competitive pressures will likely make it more so. There seems to be a demand for competent business reporters, so maybe this is a good thing in terms of employment numbers.

But are we just pawns in media conglomerates? Fox News Channel anchors John Gibson and Neil Cavuto interviewed each other in the wake of the developments and were speculating about the security CNBC employees would have if the deal went through. That made me wonder about how journalism fits into the chess game of media conglomerates.

It also makes me wonder about the likes of Zell and Murdoch. The Chicago real estate tycoon is new to the news business, but will he stop with the acquistion of the Tribune Company? For Murdoch, the news business is old hat - but where will his global domination (or pursuit of it at least) finally stop?

How would another business channel affect the TV landscape? We've got three major cable news networks - why not another business channel? It means more jobs! With the strength of the Wall Street Journal behind it, the channel would have instant credibility.

But it could also water down the reporting so that both channels are just repeating themselves...kind of like the news channels.

The only thing to wait for now is to see if Murdoch can actually buy Dow Jones. There are indications that it will be tough but Murdoch probably didn't build a media empire by being timid.


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