Murdoch vs. Family-Owned Newspapers

The mogul's play for the Wall Street Journal is a story of newspaper-owning families under siege

Hector Mata / AFP / Getty

Chairman and CEO of News Corporation Rupert Murdoch.

In 1902, Boston boardinghouse owner Jessie Barron bought Dow Jones & Co., publisher of the Wall Street Journal, with a down payment of $2,500. She did this at the behest of her longtime boarder and not-so-longtime second husband, financial writer Clarence Barron. But Mrs. Barron really was the owner, and when she died in 1918, her majority share passed to her daughter by her first marriage, Jane Bancroft.

The Bancrofts have held a controlling stake in Dow Jones ever since. Jane's husband Hugh Bancroft was company president for a time, but since his death in 1933, the family has mostly kept...

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