Tuesday, June 12, 2007

What Murdoch's Journal would really look like

There is widespread speculation that if Rupert Murdoch is successful in his bid to buy Dow Jones the quality at the financial information firm's flagship publication, The Wall Street Journal, will suffer.

A lot of this is based on Murdoch's stewardship of his lone American newspaper, the New York Post.

While the New York Post is renowned for its clever pun-filled headlines -- which have been just as successful in branding entire nations as weasels as they have getting the Yankees back on the winning track -- the Post isn't known for the kind of vigorous reporting the Wall Street Journal excels in. Of particular concern, if Murdoch takes over, would be the future of the Journal's award winning China coverage.

Since Murdoch is a media mogul with newspaper holdings all over the anglosphere, I don't think it is fair to judge him on one newspaper.

Another of Murdoch's papers, News of the World, happens to be the biggest selling English language newspaper on the planet. Despite this, I hadn't even heard of the Sunday tabloid until I was exposed to it about a month ago through its spectacular coverage of Lindsay Lohan.

Mind you, this a London based paper, and the Brits have their own young out-of-control drug taking celebrities, like Amy Winehouse, to keep them entertained. In the age of shrinking newsrooms, I don't think anyone would blame News of the World if it were to limit its Lohan coverage to wire stories.

But instead, staying true to its name, News of the World's commitment to a story nine time zones away has put it at the forefront of all the bawdy details in the life and times of Lindsay Lohan. A month ago it was News of The World that first showed us the pictures of the former child star inhaling cocaine in a Los Angeles night club bathroom. Then, last week, it broke the disturbing images of Lindsay engaging in dangerous knife play with MTV personality Vanessa Minnillo.

This week's revelation was a bevy of all-new well-sourced Lindsay tales, including the time she tried to sex Mariah Carey and, most shockingly, an account of a dangerous encounter she had with a drug dealer. Lindsay, who was meeting with the coke peddler behind a bush somewhere in Beverly Hills, got the idea she was being sold short and began viciously beating the culprit. Eventually the dealer was forced to draw his gun, but this didn't stop her rampaging fists, and it was only after Lohan's bodyguard tackled the armed man from behind that the situation was defused. What an exclusive!

Obviously The Wall Street Journal covers different subject matter than News of the World does. But reporting is reporting. Through hard work and paying generous sums of money to sources, Murdoch's News of the World has been able to improbably corner the market in Lindsay Lohan, a slight girl who conducts her business in the shadows of bushes far, far away.

I'm sure the same strategy of reporting could work for covering China, a far off but giant country with its own appropriately scaled shadowy dealings.

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