According to the Journal‘s book-length description of yesterday’s Boston meeting, the 33-member family is as torn as ever, with heirs struggling to weigh $60 a share against “the weight of the past.” As at many family gatherings, logic is running a distant second to emotion: The 77-year-old Jane Cox MacElree invoked murdered Journal reporter Daniel Pearl as a point against the deal, saying “He put his life on the line for the paper” (the implication perhaps being that, under a Murdoch regime, Pearl would have instead chosen to cover Victoria’s Secret).
One of the most preposterous themes to emerge from the Bancroft family’s debate is the idea that passively owning stock is the equivalent of supporting “journalistic independence.” The Bancrofts haven’t “pursued independence” at Dow Jones all these years–they’ve ignored it. And it’s easy to see why. Tough decisions, such as those made routinely at any publication that is also a business, are hard to make, especially when 30-odd people who barely know each other are involved.
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