Yes, according to The New York Times, Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. has reportedly succeeded in its acquisition of the Dow Jones Company from the Bancroft Family, which owns the venerable Wall Street Journal.
While it's too early to say for certain how the move under the News Corp. banner will impact the editorial direction of the Journal, history provides an instructive lesson of how past, often storied papers, have fared once put beneath Murdoch's rabidly conservative thumb. In particular, this article from The New Yorker, by Ken Auletta (who has studied Murdoch's maneuvering as much as anyone) is a must read.
Auletta identifies that Murdoch distinguishes himself from other modern-day media barons is the manner with which he diversifies News Corp.'s holdings beyond "old media," (such as television stations and newspapers), taking major gambles on "new media," such as MySpace.com. This short video clip has Auletta's explaining the challenges that the MySpace acquisition represents for News Corp.
I won't hide the fact that I'm no fan of Rupert Murdoch. In fact, I see him as a bully and a villain, who uses his media control in the same manner as old newspaper tycoons, Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst, but with a much wider (and therefore more dangerous) reach. In short, he's a propagandist in the most negative sense of the word, who has turned every media outlet he has owned (from the once-respected The Times, to the never respected Fox News) into quasi-personal mouthpieces with sensationalist headlines, stubbornly conservative agendas, and a dearth of hard reporting that do little to inform, but much to entertain.
Speaking of propaganda, I just finished a very interesting book, Age of Propaganda (a short excerpt is available here) that delves into the quesiton of propaganda in the news. Despite the book being written almost a decade before the advent of Fox News, it correctly predicts today's cable news environment. Here's an excerpt I found especially prescient:
[In regards to the minute-by-minute coverage of a 1985 hostage crisis:] TV cameras offered viewers back home around-the-clock coverage of all aspects of the crisis, important and trivial alike. There were press conferences held by the terrorists, press conferences held by the hostages, intimate shots of anguished families, demands, counterdemands, pistol-wavings, outrageous statements, luncheon menus. The TV cameras did everything but follow the hostages into the restrooms. The drama was spellbinding.The authors explain that entertainment-as-news—a total lack of reporting and focus on the trivial—is also a form of propaganda. With the sale of The Wall Street Journal to Murdoch's News Corp. (which has made this entertainment-as-news their trade), there's good reason to believe that one of the last bastion's of objective mainstream news has been dealt a deadly blow.
The result is sound-bite news—a montage of brief visual images that play to the crowds. Each event and every idea must be part of a dramatic story amply illustrated with visual displays. Stories that are easily dramatized and visualized, such as a child trapped in an abandon well, are readily covered. More complex issues, such as the economy or regulatory policy, receive little attention unless they can be made concrete and visual. [...] In the long run, our seemingly insatiable desire for entertainment may succeed where Hitler and Pravda failed.