What about Ottaway?


Rupert Murdoch has made it clear to Wall Street that his bid for Dow Jones & Company is not a shift in strategy. He is not looking to expand News Corporation's holdings in the newspaper business in the United States. Rather, the Wall Street Journal is a unique brand which can be exploited in various ways. But if Murdoch does succeed in buying Dow Jones for five billion bucks, the deal brings with it Ottaway Newspapers, which owns a number of small market newspapers.

One of those newspapers, the Times Herald-Record of Middletown, NY, had reporter Kristina Wells examine what might happen to the Ottaway chain. Retired Ottaway chairman James Ottaway Jr., who has opposed the News Corporation buyout, told her "There's some chance, because we would be such a small part of a large company, that Murdoch wouldn't have much time to worry about how we were covering the news in Middletown."

Noting that Murdoch is not after the Ottaway papers anyway, Arizona State University professor Tim McGuire, an expert on the business side of journalism, told her that News Corporation is likely to sell off the newspapers after acquiring Dow Jones.

The Times Herald-Record also polled its readers online. When we checked, 1,730 votes had been cast. 42.6% said they thought Murdoch would improve the paper, 31.2% said he would ruin it and 26.2% said there would be no change.

SmartMedia observation: It never actually made sense for Dow Jones to acquire Ottaway back in 1970. It makes even less sense for News Corporation to own the small town newspaper chain. Putting it up for sale seems like a no-brainer for Murdoch.