Today's Blogs

How Now, Dow Jones?

Bloggers predict the future of the Wall Street Journal under Rupert Murdoch and say goodbye to another groundbreaking auteur.

How now, Dow Jones: Ending months of speculation—not to mention liberal fear and loathing—the Bancroft family approvedRupert Murdoch’s $5 billion bid for the Dow Jones & Co. and its most valuable print asset, the Wall Street Journal. No hounds were released.

The Bancrofts are not a newspaper family in the sense that the Sulzbergers, say, are,” writesFelix Salmon at Portfolio’s Market Movers. “But the Murdochs are. And my guess is that they will continue to control the WSJ for even longer than the 105 years the Bancrofts owned it.” At BeliefNet, “Crunchy Con” Rod Dreher points out that, if nothing else, Murdoch offers “stability” in a declining industry. A veteran of the New York Post, he adds: “One thing that was so pleasurable about working for Murdoch’s Post is that the newsroom was really a fun place to be. I’ve worked for five newspapers over the course of my career, and enjoyed each experience, but the Post was hands-down the most lively. Whatever his faults, and they are many, Murdoch is not sanctimonious about journalism. Career journalists have a tendency to get very high and mighty about what we do, which in turn can result in newspapers that are awfully dull.”

But Meteor Blades at the leftist Daily Kos is unsurprisingly glum: “If you’ve been one of those many American journalists – young or old – who actually tries to get some good reporting published between assignments on ridiculous stories, you know full well how much consolidation of the media has contributed to throwing up barricades against your best efforts. It’s not the personality or politics of some two-bit Murdoch imitator that gets you so much as the bottom-line-is-everything publishing philosophy that now considers anything under a 25% profit margin too small.”

Paul R. La Monica at CNN Money’s Media Biz saysall may not be peaches and cream for Murdoch going forward: “Advertisers may not care that much about ‘editorial integrity’ but they do care about eyeballs. If News Corp. alienates the core readers of the Journal, whom I suspect care more about stocks and bonds and less about politics and celebrity gossip, then Murdoch will have lots of angry News Corp. shareholders to deal with.”

TV critic James Poniewozik at Time’s Tuned In blog isn’t as pessimisticas some media analysts have been about the merger: “[T]he WSJ’s best guarantor of independence for now may be the increased attention to it–and the way that attention reflects on Rupert’s expensive TV gamble. (At least short-term. Then again, Murdoch is 76: how long is his term anyway? After him, the WSJ becomes just another news institution with a huge, perhaps less generous corporate parent–like NBC News or, um, Time Inc.–and that’s a situation with its own problems.)”

Rachel Sklar at the Huffington Post’s Eat the Pressquotes one of Murdoch’s mogul rivals, New York Daily News owner Mort Zuckerman, who called into MSNBC’s Morning Joe. *  Zuckerman said: “The only way he can screw up that opportunity is to use the Wall Street Journal … for his own sort of personal and business agendas. … He’s done it in the past, and therefore it makes you worry that he’s going to do it in the future.”

Readmore about Murdoch’s purchase of Dow Jones & Co., or discussit in the Fray. Read Jack Shafer’s complete Murdoch coverage in Slate.

Ciao: On the same day that iconic Swedish filmmaker Ingmar Bergman died, so too did iconic Italian director Michelangelo Antonioni. He was 94. Bloggers assess a career of dark, cerebral celluloid.

Italian language specialist and translator Jeremy Parzen met the directoronce. “As we witness Antonioni’s eclispse, I can’t help but think of L’eclisse (or “The Eclispse”), the third installment of the 1960s Trilogy. Many don’t remember that the title — like some many things Antonioni — was intended as a wonderful paronomasia: the Italian eclisse means both “eclipse” and “ellipse” (from the Latin ellipsis in turn from the Greek elleipsis, from the root leipo or lipo, “to be or to go missing”). Today, I’d like to think that Antonioni’s life and work have not been eclipsed but rather that he has given us yet another ellipse that makes us think about the spaces and surfaces of the meaning of our lives.”

At Hit & Run, Reason editor Nick Gillespie thinks“Blow-Up created a still-potent way of talking about the ungraspability of social reality. In that and other movies, Antonioni also helped to make American audiences more cosmopolitan and sophisticated, which isn’t a bad thing (to be sure, he could boring too).”

Political philosopher Norm Geras at normblog stoppedwatching Antonioni films back in the mid-’70s: “My speculation? It is that, whatever may be the aesthetic achievement of Antonioni’s movies, the film-watching public has come to have less patience with ‘languid alienation’ as a subjective condition. This might be because there are far worse human conditions, ones that make a greater demand on our attention. Or it might be because people feel that the languidly alienated are likely to have the means of overcoming such alienation within their own grasp. I have no way of testing the speculation, but it’s what occurred to me.”

Readmore about Antonioni’s death. ReadSlate’s “Obit” of Antonioni, or discusshis legacy in the Fray.

Correction, Aug. 2, 2007: The article originally said that Eat the Press blogger Rachel Sklar talked to New York Daily News owner Mort Zuckerman. She was quoting comments he made to MSNBC. (Return to the corrected sentence.)