Steiger, in Beijing, Says Murdoch Won't Shift 'WSJ' China Coverage

By: Rupert Murdoch's takeover of The Wall Street Journal will not affect its coverage of China, the newspaper's editor at large said Tuesday, rejecting concerns Murdoch could interfere in editorial decisions to strengthen his Chinese business interests.

"My expectation is that there will be no change in our China coverage," Paul Steiger said in Beijing. "Coverage of China is an extremely important priority for The Wall Street Journal ... it's very important to our readers and we intend to pursue it actively and we don't expect there to be any change in that."

Murdoch's eager pursuit of business in China and perceived willingness to kill projects likely to rankle Beijing have raised concerns in journalist and human rights circles about his US$5 billion purchase of Dow Jones & Co. (DJ), the newspaper's parent company.

Earlier this year, a handful of reporters from The Wall Street Journal's Beijing bureau urged Dow Jones in an open letter to reject Murdoch's takeover bid over concerns he would meddle in the newspaper's China coverage. The Journal has won two Pulitzer Prizes over the past seven years for its often-critical coverage of China's economic and social reforms.

The boards of Dow Jones and Murdoch's News Corp. (NWS) signed off on the purchase agreement last week, capping the media mogul's three-month pursuit.

The May 10 letter from six China-based WSJ reporters said Murdoch had a "well- documented history of making editorial decisions in order to advance his business interests in China and, indeed, of sacrificing journalistic integrity to satisfy personal or political aims." News Corp. has said those concerns are unwarranted.

Steiger, who is also board chairman of the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists, made his remarks during a news conference Tuesday that sought to highlight the Chinese government's failure to deliver on promises to allow greater press freedom ahead of the 2008 Olympic Games.


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