Wall Street Journal Weighs Life Under Murdoch Rupert Murdoch has spent years thinking about what he would do with The Wall Street Journal if he could just get his hands on it. Based on his business history, he often gets what he wants. But Mr. Murdoch, the media baron who runs the News Corporation, may need a little more of his trademark patience to win The Journal’s parent company, Dow Jones & Company. Yesterday, the company’s board announced that it was taking no action on Mr. Murdoch’s surprise $5 billion bid because members of the controlling Bancroft family holding 52 percent of the company’s votes oppose it. Mr. Murdoch’s determination to buy Dow Jones is not expected to be deflected by the news, according to an adviser who did not want to be identified because he was not authorized to speak for Mr. Murdoch. The News Corporation declined to comment. The question for Bancroft family members, journalists and competitors would be, if he eventually prevails: What sort of owner would Mr. Murdoch be for the world’s leading financial newspaper? A look at the five decades he has spent buying, running and selling newspapers suggests two things. First, Mr. Murdoch does not mind losing money in the short term to satisfy his competitive goals. And despite overseeing a globe-spanning media conglomerate worth $67 billion, he still considers himself foremost a newspaperman and has an editor’s eye for what goes into print. In some cases over the years, Mr. Murdoch was known for calling in tips or tinkering with headlines, particularly at the tabloid newspapers he has owned. In 2004, Mr. Murdoch was even said by one New York Post employee to be the source for The Post’s erroneous headline “Dem Picks Gephardt as VP Candidate,” although The Post’s editor denied that was the case. Mr. Murdoch’s notoriety as the force behind the politically barbed Fox News Channel, the racy Sun in London and the populist Post precedes him and is part of the reason for the opposition against him among the Bancroft family and some Journal employees. Perhaps to soften that image, Mr. Murdoch has portrayed himself in letters to the Bancroft family as a fellow owner of a family business who would be a steward for the newspaper and maintain its independence. “We have a history of long stewardship of great newspapers,” Mr. Murdoch wrote in a letter to the family last week, referring specifically to The Times of London, The Sunday Times and The Australian. “I always see my role as supporting the editors and publishers of these newspapers. We think we would be the ideal partner to grow and expand your company, as well as protect such a vital public trust.” Several current and former associates said that despite some high-profile episodes over the years, Mr. Murdoch today does take a less active role in day-to-day coverage, particularly of the higher-end newspapers he owns. Robert Thomson, the editor of The Times of London since 2002, said that Mr. Murdoch had never called him to criticize or order up a particular story. “We have never talked about that day’s paper or the next day’s paper,” he said, ”never discussed a story in any way that I would interpret as being an attempt to exercise influence over news coverage.” Mr. Murdoch said in an interview last week that he did not dictate, for example, which candidates each newspaper should endorse in a political campaign. In the last British election, for example, The Times supported the re-election of Tony Blair of the Labor Party, while The Sunday Times backed his Conservative rival. Mr. Thomson said that The Times had a strict separation between news and commentary — which is something that The Wall Street Journal and most United States newspapers hold sacrosanct, but not all of Mr. Murdoch’s papers, particularly his tabloids, have adhered to. And certainly some of Mr. Murdoch’s earlier clashes with editors are the stuff of lore. After the Murdoch purchase of The Times in 1981, Harold Evans, then the paper’s editor, felt that Mr. Murdoch pressured him toward showing more favor toward Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in the newspaper. In his memoir, “Good Times, Bad Times,” Mr. Evans wrote that Mr. Murdoch did not suggest specific editorial views. Rather, he made his feelings known “by jabbing a finger at headlines which he thought could have been more supportive of Mrs. Thatcher.” In 1983, Mr. Murdoch caused a stir when he personally secured the publishing rights to what were said to be Hitler’s diaries, only to learn subsequently that they were fakes after publishing them in The Sunday Times. “I think he’s learned quite a lot of lessons from The Times and The Sunday Times,” said Andrew F. Neil, a former editor of the latter paper for Mr. Murdoch, who is now a television interviewer and magazine executive in Britain. “He gives his quality newspaper editors a freer hand,” Mr. Neil said. “He’s much more hands-on with his tabloids. If you want to know what Rupert’s thinking, read The Post.”................. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/03/business/media/03murdoch.html How long until he owns everything?