has the memo from David Schlesinger, the editor-in-chief of
Reuters, and a key member of the team which made the final decision to let their
company be sold to Canada’s Thomson.
Clearly, the Directors of the Reuters Founders Share Company had to approve
of this new company. They did it because our partner and its controlling shareholder
have similar values to the values Reuters has always been proud of and espoused.
More importantly, they did it because the Reuter Trust Principles will now
apply across the combined company, and not simply the part that came from
Reuters. That gives the Trust Principles new power and life, and allows us
to build on 156 years of tradition as a platform for a new century of growth…
As part of Thomson–Reuters, we will have the resources and a renewed
will to expand our news coverage to inform and give insight to customers in
their professional and personal lives.
One can’t help but think of another public media company which is controlled
by a small group of insiders: Dow Jones. While Schlesinger and his colleagues
embraced the approach from Thomson, the Bancroft family felt that they should
reject the approach from Rupert Murdoch. And the reason they felt that way was
that Rupert Murdoch does not have similar values to the values they have always
been proud of and espoused.
For all that I think the proposed acquisition of Dow Jones is a good idea,
and will give Dow Jones "the resources and a renewed will to expand its
news coverage," in the words of Schelsinger, the fact remains that Rupert
Murdoch is a very different kind of press baron than the present owners of the
Wall Street Journal.
Indeed, Murdoch’s acquisition of Dow Jones must be contingent on his deliberately
insulating the Wall Street Journal from his personal influence — this is necessary
because he does, regularly, interfere personally at other media properties he
One can argue till the cows come home about the degree of influence that Murdoch
personally exercises over his broadsheet properties. It’s not huge, that much
is clear – but it’s definitely true that we Murdoch defenders are put
on the back foot by having to try to restrict discussion about editorial influence
to his broadsheets.
Murdoch’s overall approach to his media properties is undoubtedly much more
interventionist than the Bancrofts would ever be, which makes his proposed acquisition
much more problematic than the relatively easy tie-up between Thomson and Reuters.