Bancroft: WSJ editorial integrity group a ‘fantasy’

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 got a similar comment from another family member, Jane Cox MacElree:

Yahoo: No surprises there

jerry-1.jpgWe weren’t expecting huge surprises during Yahoo’s earnings conference call, but CEO Jerry Yang was spectacularly vague about the Internet company’s plans vis-a-vis Microsoft or any other potential tie-ups — with Google, Time Warner’s AOL or News Corp — that Yahoo has been working on.

At the very start of the call, Yang essentially said “Don’t go there” to analysts and investors, reminding them about the purpose of the call.

“I’d like to remind you that today’s call is about our Q1 results, so please direct your questions to the quarter if possible,” Yang said.

Good things come in threes for Murdoch

murdochfist1.jpgNews Corp’s Rupert Murdoch dominated headlines again on Tuesday as not one, but at least three news items rippled across the media world.

As shareholders of rival paper The New York Times assemble on Tuesday morning for its annual meeting held at the company’s glittering new headquarters near Times Square, Murdoch took steps to accelerate the remaking of the Wall Street Journal in his image. WSJ is set to announce today the resignation of its managing editor Marcus Brauchli, who is leaving 11 months into the job and just a few months following the closing of Murdoch’s $5 billion purchase of Dow Jones. Murdoch appointee and publisher Robert Thomson will take over the top editorial spot in the interim, according to news reports. 

Meanwhile, News Corp deal makers across town appear poised to reach a deal to relieve real estate magnate and Tribune Chief Sam Zell of his Newsday newspaper for about $580 million to create a joint venture to combine Murdoch’s New York Post and other assets with Tribune’s paper. The Newsday deal is expected to cut about $50 million in annual losses at the Post. 

UPDATED-Might Bloomberg buy the New York Times?

Pope Benedict XVI speaks to New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg at Ground Zero in New York,UPDATE – Bloomberg told a press conference on Monday that he is not entering the newspaper business, saying:

“I am not a newspaper person.

Could New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg someday become New York Times Publisher Michael Bloomberg? (pictured on left, with Pope Benedict)

While it’s not a new idea, most media outlets — present company included — are all abuzz over the idea, and it has been reported that aides are whispering to Bloomberg he should merge Bloomberg LP, the financial news organization he created, with the Times.

Trouble in FIM-land

myspace.jpgNews Corp jewel Fox Interactive Media (a.k.a the catchy “FIM”) made a late-night admission that its revenue might fall short of a $1 billion target for the current fiscal year.

The division that houses teen hangout MySpace is also revamping its advertising sales division to embrace a new technology that mines user profiles on the social network site to serve visitors more individually-tailored ads.

“We expect to be close to our target,” FIM said of its revenue for fiscal 2008. One company source said the timing of the new ad technology could be partly to blame for any shortfall.

Murdoch’s ‘battering ram’

murdoch-soccer-ball.jpgRupert Murdoch made his name dominating global entertainment and media by paying big for what he calls the battering ram — exclusive rights to air sports programming in the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom and Asia.

He’s now executing from the same playbook in Germany, Europe’s biggest television market, whose viewers are quite happy not paying for television unless it’s soccer.

Confirming a report in Der Spiegel, a source close the company tells us Murdoch’s News Corp aims to buy up to 23 percent of Germany’s biggest pay television provider Premiere AG to control a majority at the June 12 Premiere annual meeting. He previously held a 19.9 percent interest as of February and had stoked buyout speculation in January after an initial purchase of more than 14 percent in January.

Media’s in the blood in Murdoch household

shine-ltd-logo.JPGWhatever it is that drives Rupert Murdoch’s offspring out of the businesses he owns may also bring them back.

Could Elisabeth Murdoch return to daddy’s fold? Sure, according to a glowing profile in the New York Times on Monday of Rupert Murdoch’s elder daughter from his second marriage.

Once ruled out as a possible heir to Murdoch’s News Corp global media empire after her 2000 departure from Murdoch-controlled BSkyB to strike out — quite successfully — on her own, she stirs speculation anew over a possible return … someday.