Wednesday, April 30, 2008
When The News Corporation bought Dow Jones & Company, publisher of the Wall Street Journal, the Bancroft family, which held a controlling interest in Dow Jones, put up a fight in an attempt to protect the Journal's independence. The News Corporation is controlled by Rupert Murdoch (pictured), who is reputed to have "a history of bending news coverage to suit his views," according to today's New York Times. In order to protect the paper, the Bancrofts insisted upon the creation of a special oversight committee with the power to block the firing or hiring of the Journal's managing editor.
Last week, the Times reported that Marcus Brauchli, the Journal's managing editor, was resigning, just four months after Murdoch took control of the paper. The special oversight committee has no jurisdiction over resignations, but it found that Brauchli had been effectively forced to resign and thus that Brauchli was removed from his position in violation of both "the letter and the spirit of the agreement."
The committee recognizes that Mr Brauchli cannot be "unresigned," and is therefore simply stressing its intention to play a role in selecting his replacement. According to the Times, the committee's chairman, Thomas J. Bray, said that Brauchli did not believe that the News Corporation had compromised the integrity or independence of the Journal. Still, the Times reported that Brauchli was frustrated by the perception (at least) that he was not truly in control of the paper he ostensibly led.