July 27, 2011
How involved is Rupert Murdoch at the newspapers he owns? When the subject is education, Murdoch’s views directly influence the coverage in the New York Post and, at the least, the sorts of meetings taken at the Wall Street Journal.
Azi Paybarah at the Observer reports today that at the New York Post, education stories are ordered up according to Murdoch’s visits:
One former reporter said his own editor requested a week’s worth of stories about the New York City public schools because “Rupert was going to be in town.” It was coveted real estate in the paper, and the reporter reluctantly obliged.
We have previously chronicled the Post’s open campaigning on behalf of the Bloomberg administration’s education policies and its effort to renew mayoral control. The coverage prompted Education Secretary Arne Duncan to praise the newspaper for its “leadership” in covering mayoral control.
There are some exceptions — New York City education beat reporter Yoav Gonen is even-handed and columnist Michael Goodwin takes no prisoners. But on and off the editorial page, the newspaper often matches Murdoch’s education views: aggressively dismissive of the teachers union and ridiculing of critics of the mayor.
At the Wall Street Journal, the line between news and opinion and newspaper boss seems to be thicker. But it has some holes. Last week, the New York Times reported on a meeting arranged between Joel Klein, then still the schools chancellor, and reporters:
When Mr. Klein visited The Journal last year to discuss education issues with news and opinion writers, Mr. Murdoch interrupted to lavish praise on the chancellor, much to the surprise of the writers. “Just listen to everything that Joel is saying,” Mr. Murdoch insisted, according to one person who attended the meeting.
A person who attended the meeting confirmed the account. The same story reported that Murdoch relished his access to Journal reporters, with whom he sometimes discussed education issues.
Not everyone at News Corp followed lockstep with Murdoch. When Department of Education officials met with the editorial boards of papers across the city to persuade them of their success at raising achievement, editors at the New York Post’s editorial page were skeptical, a former Bloomberg administration official said.
“We worked hard to get them on board with our numbers,” said the source. “I’m telling you, it was easier with the Times.”