Ottaway Jr. discusses Murdoch's bid for Dow Jones on JPR

The future of the Rogue Valley's newspapers remains uncertain according to James Ottaway Jr., former chairman and CEO of Ottaway Newspapers Inc.

Ottaway was interviewed this morning on the Jefferson Exchange radio show about the potential sale of Dow Jones, Ottaway Newspapers' parent company, to Rupert Murdoch.

Ottaway said he does not know if Murdoch would keep or sell the chain of community newspapers, that includes the Ashland Daily Tidings and Mail Tribune, if the controversial media mogul is successful in his bid to buy Dow Jones and the Wall Street Journal, the parent company of Ottaway and the Ashland Daily Tidings.

"I have no indication of what he plans to do with them," said Ottaway, whose family privately started and operated the chain of community newspapers before selling to Dow Jones in 1970. "I don't know if he would sell it, keep it, improve it. The local impact depends on what Rupert Murdoch decides to do."

But Ottaway, who owns 6.2 percent of Dow Jones super-voting stock, was critical of Murdoch's style of newspaper ownership, saying his existing media outlets violate long-standing practices in American journalism of newsroom independence and unbiased reporting.

One example he cited on the Jefferson Exchange this morning was that Murdoch "stifled news about China [because] he was afraid they would cut off his ability to broadcast there."

Ironically Murdoch's coverage of China came at the same time the Wall Street Journal was reporting "vigorously on the Chinese government," coverage of human rights abuses that earned the newspaper a Pulitzer Prize.

"I can't see how to resolve these conflicts if he owns the Wall Street Journal," Ottaway said.

Ottaway told host Paul Steinle that Ottaway Media Group (formerly Ottaway Newspapers Inc.) "never tells someone" at their local newspapers what to write or what to editorialize about.

"We think that is very important," he said, noting that he doesn't believe Murdoch has the same respect for this tenet of modern American journalism.

Ottaway also said he would not seek to buy back Ottaway News Group from Murdoch if he purchases Dow Jones.

"It's a nice idea but I've had a 43-year career and I am ready for a rest," he said. "I wouldn't have the money to do it."

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