The question is whether that news operation will survive if Rupert Murdoch persuades the Bancroft family to sell Dow Jones, and thus The Journal.
Mr. Murdoch has dangled a hefty $5 billion before the family that has controlled The Journal for more than 100 years. Frankly, we hope the Bancrofts will find a way to continue producing their fine newspaper, or, failing that, find a buyer who is a safer bet to protect the newspaper for its readers.
Business magazines and business television stand on the shoulders of the few newspapers that do the reporting, and analysis, day in and day out. The Journal is the world’s leader, if only by circulation. It is also two papers in one. Its news coverage is independent, questioning and authoritative. Its research is superb and its editing professional. Meanwhile, its editorial pages are the engine of US conservatism.
Yet I wonder how many even of his admirers would argue that Mr Murdoch, for all his successes, has created even one serious, authoritative and truly independent newspaper. That is not what Mr Murdoch is about. He is a populist, a lover of tabloids and a brilliant businessman. We already know three things about his influence on his publications: The first is that the editorial line will almost certainly be pro-business and conservative (... ) The second thing we know is that the paper is likely to become shriller and more populist, across the board (...) The last and most important thing we know about Mr Murdoch is that business considerations matter.
For the readers of the Journal, this last issue must be the most important consideration. Many newspapers exist to entertain. Business papers exist to inform. Any doubt about the accuracy and independence of their coverage destroys their value as tools. Such questions are, in this case, inevitable.