The looming Murdochization of the Wall Street Journal highlights what people should have realized long ago, writes Gary Weiss: just how disastrous public ownership is to the newspaper business. Every time that investors' bottom lines are matched against journalistic integrity, journalism gets tramped. "The only solution," he says, "is to get rid of the shareholders."
Public ownership made sense in an era when newspapers could slash labor costs through technology. But in the mature industry, cutting costs requires cutting content, like long-form journalism, local interest stories, foreign bureaus, and investigative reporting. To save journalism, Weiss says, concerned private trusts should buy back newspaper shares. Unfortunately, he writes, that has "approximately zero chance of happening."