It looks as though there is a split within the controlling shareholders of the WSJ. According to the latest news, the younger shareholders are interested in selling while the oldest shareholders are holding off. While any reports of the inner-workings of the controlling interests are by definition questionable, there is one fundamental point to all of this. The Wall Street Journal is a bastion of great business and economy reporting. Selling this paper to News Corp would mean an incredible loss to the U.S. newspaper and business community.
First -- let's skip the debate about the editorial page. I rarely read any WSJ editorial and when I do I am almost always less than impressed (to say the least).
But the business reporting is top-notch and has been for a long time. The WSJ is the first paper I read every morning -- and I am not alone. WSJ economic reports are written by writers who have a solid grasp of economics and write in an incredibly even-handed way. Writing about economics inherently involves the often-aggravating "on the other hand" statement. But that's the way economics is. There is never a clear-cut answer to literally any economic situation. And the WSJ's writers present all sides of the economic story with a very fair hand and excellent overall writing.
News Corp is starting a business news channel and wants the WSJ's economic writers to become denizens of all things News Corp. And here come the problem with this deal. News Corp's "news" is in fact pure, factually challenged garbage. The most recent, egregious example is confusing Representative Conyers with Jefferson. But that's just the tip of the iceberg. Neil Cavutto -- Fox News' "business" editor -- provides great salacious descriptions of news, but has one of the most factually challenged business reporting styles around. The weekend "stock programs" on Fox are more pure garbage. I have watched a few episodes and was amazed that anyone would want to take any economic or investing advice from any of those programs. The short version is Fox "news" is long of sensationalism and short on substance.
And that's where the real rub comes. Fox News is a great news source if you are interested in the latest saga of the most recently kidnapped or murdered pretty white woman between the ages of 18 and 25. It's a terrible source of pure information. The Wall Street Journal is a great source of information. But selling to News Corp would ruin this reputation in a matter of years as News Corps sensationalistic presentation overcomes journalistic integrity.
So, to the majority stockholders of Dow Jones -- if you are going to sell, please sell to a source that will respect over 100 years of fine business reporting.
In addition, if you are interested in real business reporting, I would highly recommend Bloomberg if the WSJ is sold.