Bancroft: WSJ editorial integrity group a ‘fantasy’

April 23, 2008

Although Marcus Brauchli’s decision to resign as the top editor at The Wall Street Journal — announced on Tuesday — did not require the approval of the paper’s editorial integrity committee, they will step in when it’s time to hire the next one. 

The committee was designed to safeguard editorial independence by approving or vetoing the hiring choices in case its new owner, News Corp’s Rupert Murdoch, attempts to use his candidate to evade a solemn promise to keep the newspaper’s editorial dignity intact. It was one of the few safeguards left behind by its previous owners, the Bancroft family, as a condition for agreeing to the Murdoch’s takeover.

How effective will the committee actually be? We asked former Dow Jones board member Christopher Bancroft on Tuesday.

“That’s a lovely fantasy,” he said. “I told the family [at the time] that it’s window dressing. It is a lovely fantasy to imagine you can have a board that will take care of editorial issues at The Wall Street Journal.”

Jeff Bercovici and Portfolio.com got a similar comment from another family member, Jane Cox MacElree:

“I’m not surprised,” says Jane Cox MacElree, who controlled 15 percent of the family’s Dow Jones shares. “This is why I was not in favor of selling the paper to that man. Words mean nothing to him, unless they’re his.”

What do you think about the committee? Five people getting $100,000 to act out a fantasy, or five guardians of truth, justice and journalism?

(Photo: Reuters)

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