Back in May, seven foreign correspondents based in China for the Wall Street Journal wrote a public letter to protest Rupert Murdoch’s bid to take over the newspaper.
Murdoch would meddle with the Journal’s China coverage, the correspondents warned.
“News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch has a well-documented history of making editorial decisions in order to advance his business interests in China and, indeed, of sacrificing journalistic integrity to satisfy personal or political aims,” the letter said.
Well Murdoch won his bid. The WSJ will be his baby. And that cheeky letter may come back to haunt a few people.
The Journal’s editor at large, Paul S. Steiger, is in Beijing today, attending to other matters in his role as chairman of the Committee to Protect Journalists. At a news conference to critique the lack of press freedoms in China, Steiger was asked by a reporter from Singapore about how Murdoch might affect the Journal’s coverage of China. Here’s what he said:
“My expectation is that there will be no change in our China coverage. As you may know, we have more reporters in China than any other U.S. publication. Coverage of China is an extremely important priority for the Wall Street Journal. We’ve won two Pulitzer Prizes for our coverage of China in the last six or seven years, and it’s very important to our readers. We intend to pursue it actively, and don’t expect there to be any change in that.”
Quite a change in tone. Let’s wait and see who is right: Steiger or the reporters on the ground in China.