International Herald Tribune Editorial - Notes about competition
Copyright by The International Herald Tribune
Published: August 2, 2007
If we were in any other business, a risky takeover of a powerful competitor might lead to celebration. Not in our business. Good journalism, which is an essential part of democracy, thrives on competition.
More than anything, competition makes our work better - more ambitious, more in-depth, more honest. When citizens are served by many responsible news outlets, they can make more informed judgments. That is why we are paying such anxious attention to Rupert Murdoch's purchase of Dow Jones & Company and its crown jewel, The Wall Street Journal.
As newspapers have contracted, or simply disappeared, news organizations like The New York Times, the International Herald Tribune and The Journal have not celebrated. We have mourned sharp reductions in national and foreign coverage by virtually every American newspaper. The exodus of American news organizations from Iraq, for example, means more exclusives from the war zone, but a healthy democracy demands as broad a view of the war as possible.
For years, The Journal has been the model of a responsible and challenging competitor, not just in business news but also in its investigative reporting and its coverage of politics, international affairs and culture. Just this year, The Journal won two Pulitzer prizes: for its reporting on business executives unfairly enriching themselves with backdated stock options; and for articles on the high social and environmental costs of China's unregulated rush into capitalism. Coverage like that drives us all to work harder and better.
The Times and The Journal have reported extensively about Murdoch's meddling in his media properties: How he reneged on his promise of editorial independence for the Times of London and how, to curry favor with China's leaders, his satellite broadcaster, Star TV, stopped carrying news from the BBC. Now, Murdoch has bought one of the greatest newspapers in the world, with one of the most sophisticated readerships in the world. Those readers will be watching for any sign that news coverage is being slanted to curry political or economic favor.
The best way for Murdoch to protect his $5 billion investment is to protect The Journal's editorial quality and integrity. That will mean continued high-quality competition for other news organizations. And that will be good news for all newspaper readers.