The Times to Murdoch-bashers: We're doing fine

Below is the text of a letter from Robert Thomson, editor of The Times of London, to Jim Ottaway, whose family founded Ottaway Newspapers, now owned by Dow Jones. This letter is in connection with various complaints about Rupert Murdoch's News Corp's $5 billion bid for the The Wall Street Journal.

For other commentary on this matter, see this Danwei story: Wall Street Journal China bureau to Murdoch: stay away!

11 May 2007

Jim Ottaway Jr
Ottaway Newspapers
PO Box 401
Campbell Hall, NY 10916

Dear Mr Ottaway

I was somewhat disconcerted to read your thoughts about News Corp's coverage of China and the world in general, which were clearly a challenge to the integrity of the journalists at The Times and to me personally. As a Beijing correspondent, I was in Tiananmen Square on the night of the massacre in 1989 and was thrown out of Tibet by heavy-handed Chinese officials, so the explicit allegation that we are pandering to the Communist Party came as rather a surprise.

There is no doubt some difficulty in obtaining print copies of The Times in the US but reasonably regular scrutiny of our web site would make clear that all of our reporting has the objective of being factually objective and our comment pages provide a genuine contest of ideas. We are the only British newspaper to maintain a permanent bureau in Baghdad and have, by far, the most extensive coverage of the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan, where our reporters and photographers are often in harm's way because of their professional commitment.

Two areas of coverage, in particular, have been developed since I arrived at The Times after establishing The Financial Times in North America: international reporting and business news. We now have the largest business audience in Britain and have partnered with The Wall Street Journal commercially in the UK. Such a partnership, proposed by the Journal's team here, would have been unthinkable had they regarded our coverage as somehow second-rate or tainted.

I have attached a small selection of our leaders on the subject of China so that you can assess whether we are in thrall to the Government or to commercial interests. (See articles below.) I also suggest that you follow the coverage by our Beijing correspondent, Jane Macartney, a former bureau chief for Reuters, who recently broke the news about a purge of the Shanghai leadership and whose journalistic integrity can be verified by senior members of the Journal's editorial staff.

Do feel free to contact me to discuss any aspect of coverage of any issue by The Times. If you pass through London, please do visit our offices and feel at liberty to talk to our senior editors and specialists about their particular areas of expertise and about journalism in general.

All the best.

Robert Thomson

The Times
1 Pennington Street, London E98 1TT

There are currently 4 Comments for The Times to Murdoch-bashers: We're doing fine.

Comments on The Times to Murdoch-bashers: We're doing fine

I've realized that some people (unfortunately more than a few) just cannot hear anything different than what has been programmed in their heads. They are of the same school of religious extremists. There's not much you can do about them.

Let's not mention Jonathan Mirsky (China correspondent sacked by Murdoch), Chris Patten's bio [dropped by Murdoch] or the Times coverage of Wendi Deng's China business activities [non-existent under Murdoch]. Or Murdoch's kow towing in his remarks about the Dala1 Lama. WSJ, beware.

"Or Murdoch's kow towing in his remarks about the Dala1 Lama. WSJ, beware."
-Posted by: michael

What are you doing in China Michael?
If anyone is in China their morals come into question if they want to make can't have integrity there...DON'T BE NAIVE...Google, Yahoo all those companies do it...WHY? Because if they don't, if they challenge the establishment than they don't do business there. You seem like a smart individual Michael...WHAT YOU SAY AND WHAT YOU THINK ARE OFTEN TWO DIFFERENT THINGS...SO MURDOCH SAYS WHAT SELLS/WHAT PEOPLE WANT TO HEAR...WHY? BECAUSE REALLY HE ONLY LISTENS TO HIS STOCKHOLDERS....$$$ TALKS BRO.


If you checked my website you'd see I am not in China. Robert Thomson takes umbrage at those who say News Corps China coverage is influenced by Murdoch's business interests. Of course it is, and you only have to read Murdoch's own New York Post this week (link) to have this confirmed: editor Col Allen was told to make sure a story about Chinese diplomats going to strip joints was spiked. He did. The WSJ can expect the same if it becomes part of News Corp.

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