The ouster of Marcus Brauchli as managing editor of The Wall Street Journal has raised the issue of whether the move conflicts with the editorial-independence agreement that Rupert Murdoch signed with Dow Jones when his News Corp. bought the company last year. In that agreement, an independent special committee was set up to oversee various editorial issues, including content and the hiring and firing of staff. Their job was to make sure that Murdoch wasn't unduly affecting the edit process. Now that Brauchli has been asked to leave (a development that Murdoch merely told the committee about, rather than asking for their approval), that seems to have been pretty much compromised. And at least one member of the Bancroft family, who sold Dow Jones to News Corp., is crying foul. "I'm not surprised," Jane Cox MacElree, who controlled 15 percent of the family's Dow Jones shares, told Portfolio's Jeff Bercovici. "This is why I was not in favor of selling the paper to that man. Words mean nothing to him, unless they're his." Ooh, snap. Not that we're particularly surprised either. "How long did it last?" she asked wryly. "A couple of months?" Just over six, actually. In Murdoch time, that's an eternity.
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