Now that News Corp. appears to have locked up Dow Jones, publisher of the Wall Street Journal, every journalist on the planet is volunteering to be an unpaid consultant to Rupert Murdoch. I'm sure he appreciates the free advice. The News Corp. CEO is so known for taking it, after all. First up, there's Kara Swisher's tabloid-headlined call for more "promiscuity," which I was about to get behind. Talk about a paper that needs sexing up! But then I discovered that the word, in Swisher's hands, has gone entirely limp. Her deflated meaning?
By "promiscuity," Swisher just means ubiquity. The print Journal may not actually change that much — and it may not need to. But Journal-branded financial content needs to spread far and wide online. When it comes to distribution partners, in other words, Dow Jones needs to sleep around. Instead of just playing footsie, for example, as it's doing with Barry Diller's IAC, with which it has plans to create a financial-news website for the MySpace crowd, Dow Jones really needs to slut it up.
Larry Kramer, the founder of MarketWatch, has taken a break from advising venture capitalists to advise Murdoch, too. (Note to Kramer: I hear the VCs pay better.) He'd like to see his baby, which he sold to Dow Jones in 2004, become the Internet flagship of Murdoch's push into Internet journalism. It's true that MarketWatch has stagnated under Dow Jones; unlike previous partner CBS, MarketWatch's current owner has a minimal presence in TV and online video. Kramer would like News Corp.'s new Fox-branded business channel, a would-be CNBC competitor, to be named "Fox MarketWatch." That's a solution that would please many in the Journal newsroom, too, who don't want to see the newspaper's brand sullied by association with Fox TV practices. The San Francisco-based MarketWatch, by contrast, would be grateful just to have the free promotion from TV again.
And my advice? Well, I don't work for Murdoch for free. I'll just say this — as a gossip blog, it's hard to dislike a mogul who's as likely to make headlines as to write them.