Although it may still be a few more weeks before Rupert Murdoch takes official control of the Wall Street Journal, he is already making his presence felt at the newspaper’s New York headquarters.
He has, for example, already set up an office for himself on the 11th floor of the headquarters of Dow Jones, the paper’s parent company.
He has also, according to the New York Observer, taken to strolling through the Journal’s editorial offices, chatting with staffers. At one point, he had a three-hour meeting with editors in the Journal’s newsroom.
He has also dropped into several departments, where he discussed upcoming stories, such as the rise in oil prices, with editors and writers.
It is in the Journal’s coverage of Washington where Murdoch’s early appearance is expected to have significant effect. Last May, he confided to the NY Times that if he got control of the Journal he would increase the paper’s coverage of Washington.
There are several big staff changes in the works, it is believed. A big expansion of the Journal’s coverage of Washington is anticipated. The number of bureau staff is also expected to be enlarged.
In another way, Murdoch’s presence off-scene is already being seen. Several times recently, he has said he would like to see shorter, snappier and more newsy stories on the Journal’s front page.
Already there are signs that is happening. Some stories are no longer ‘jumping’from page one to inside pages.
Of course, Murdoch is also pre-occupied with the launch of his new Fox TV Business Network, which is scheduled to make its debut in the US on 15 October.
Already there has been a shuffling of places on the American cable TV network. Fox has been assigned a channel that was the former home of MSNBC, the rival business channel that Murdoch is hoping to overtake. It will air next to the Fox News Channel – which will give it a two-channel position.
In exchange, NBC will be allocated better channel positions elsewhere on the dial. For viewers in the US, it will mean a major switching around to find their favourite stations – but for Rupert Murdoch it may have major advantages.
He is said to have been very tough in his demands for better positions on the cable dial. His new business network – to which WSJ reporters are likely to be major contributors – is expected to have some 30 million viewers – and that’s from the start.