Dallas' One-Man Newspaper Dynasty

Categories: Media

In the wake of yesterday's announcement that the Bancroft family had indeed agreed to sell Dow Jones & Co. for $5 billion to Rupert Murdoch, this morning the Los Angeles Times wonders whether newspaper dynasties aren't quickly becoming a dying breed. Of course, it need look no further than George Bannerman Dealey's Belo Corp., which is run his great grandson, Robert Decherd.

Decherd, of course, controls Belo Corp. -- along with his sister, Dealey D. Herndon. But the Times wants to know, in short, for how long. To which Decherd responds:

"Journalism is being redefined whether we like it or not. The resistance in the news industry to consolidation has declined -- and that's before you introduce the phenomenon of fourth- and fifth-generation ownership."

But he's in control of the ship. Unlike the Bancrofts, who has several heirs fussin' over the sale to Murdoch (including Dallas' Christopher Bancroft), Decherd -- who, the paper notes, is 56 and has two kids -- has a "large super-voting stake," and he needs only his sister's A-OK before proceeding with any decision he makes. With that in mind, reports the L.A. paper, Decherd would not say what will happen to his stock "after he passes on."

"I don't think a lot about posterity. We can build some impressive businesses in an Internet-centric world. To me, we're all better served to think about it in those terms than to try to create an outcome 25 years from now."

--Robert Wilonsky


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