Back when Rupert Murdoch’s pursuit of Dow Jones was just a fear, I took a look at the keenly ambitious Australian’s Web 2.0fferings–the pure Web plays that linger on the edges of his empire. Conclusion: About what you’d expect–highly commercial, faddish, often titillating, little meaningful content, wildly successful.
Now that the Dow deed is done, let’s look at what the 76-year-old acquistioneur now finds in his digital toybin.
- Although reported as an afterthought if at all, in acquiring Dow-Jones Murdoch also gets MarketWatch.com, a huge market news and information service that speaks to the trading community about a subject close to Dow Jones Co.’s heart, which is to say the stock market. It generates 176 million page views per month, and 6 million uniques. (Boy, that’s a good views-to-uniques ratio.)
- MarketWatch delivers a lot of the market-monitoring tools you’ll find elsewhere both behind paid walls and on free sites. But it’s set apart by drawing on the global network of D-J reporting and editing talent to produce what the company says are 1,400 headlines/reports per day. That’s about one per minute. [Note to Rupe: Give those frontline MarketWatch producers a raise.]
- MarketWatch has a free spin-off called Virtual Stock Exchange, which is sort of like a fantasy sports service for market geeks with a lot of time on their hands.
- D-J of course also operates barrons.com, the behind-a-paid-wall digital version of that thinky business publication. By pure coincidence, that site will debut a 2.0-era upgrade on August 10; see a hard-to-tell advertiser-pitch preview here. [Note to business/digital reporters: Anyone who on Aug. 10 writes “In what may be the first glimpse of Rupert Murdoch’s plans for his digital holdings, today an updated version of Barrons.com debuted. . .” will be personally paddle-whipped by me, or someone bigger. This re-do has been in progress since before Rupert was even a flash of terror in Bancroft eyes.]
- In addition, Murdoch picks up a handful of WSJ-branded verticals, such as careerjournal.com and realestatejournal.com, each of which liberates some WSJ content from behind its paid wall and supplements it with other targeted content. [Truth told, I had no idea those sites existed until I poked around at the bottom of the Marketwatch site. How on earth did I not know that All Things Digital pushed Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher outside the WSJ paid wall? I deserve my own paddle-whipping for that.]
I’ll continue to monitor other Murdoch Web operations as the, how you say, “synergy” builds. But in the meantime I’d like to call your attention to MarketWatch analyst Jon Friedman’s Media Web column, a strong-minded but carefully written version of “What Will Rupert Do?”
It would be foolish to expect that as D-J settles into the News Corp. fold, any of its properties, in print or online, will provide tough-minded coverage of the company. Media outlets’ claims that they “cover themselves like they cover any other company” are frankly some of the most transparently false, eyeroll-inducing statements you’ll hear in the business world.
But we can at least hope that Murdoch will keep the sensibilities of his wide array of products distinct. If News Corp. rolls out a Web TV program where a panel of three Barron’s judges seated in front of Coke cups make pass-or-fail decisions on entrepreners’ quick business pitches, someone will have to paddle-whip Rupert’s butt.