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From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Andrea Seabrook.


And I'm Michele Norris.

Rupert Murdoch made such a rich offer for the Wall Street Journal's parent company - $5 billion - that many analysts thought the deal was all but done.

But as NPR's David Folkenflik reports, there are new suitors who present their own promise and problems.

DAVID FOLKENFLIK: The Pearson Company, owner of the Journal's chief rival, the Financial Times, is exploring a bid with General Electric, which owns NBC as well as CNBC, the financial news channel, NPR has confirmed. Fred Taylor worked for the Wall Street Journal as a reporter and editor for three decades and he was the managing editor or top news executive for seven years. He has praise for the Pearson Company, but says GE's involvement is worrisome.

FRED TAYLOR: They're this enormous corporation. What? Second biggest in the world, with interest on everything that the Journal covers. There are just going to be an inevitable conflict of interest.

FOLKENFLIK: The Journal is owned by Dow Jones, which in turn is controlled by the Bankcroft family. Taylor says the Bankcrofts never interfered.

TAYLOR: They didn't know whether they were rabid right wing at rabid left wing or what.

FOLKENFLIK: Rupert Murdoch, says Taylor, is another matter.

TAYLOR: I also watched him over the years at the Times of London and at the New York Post, and it sends chills up my spine to think of him having control of the paper.

FOLKENFLIK: The Bankcroft family has agreed to consider Murdoch's offer, but is crafting proposals to protect the newsroom from his influence. Meanwhile, the union representing the Dow Jones journalists is courting billionaire Ron Berkel to make a competing offer. Alex Jones has written books on other newspaper dynasties. He says the Pearson Company might look like a savior to Journal reporters but joining forces with the rival Financial Times could create its own perils.

ALEX JONES: Especially if you're at the Wall Street Journal, and you have to be asking yourself who's going to be the number one boy in this kind of a situation.

FOLKENFLIK: Jones says jobs might actually be safer under Murdoch.

JONES: Oddly enough, if Murdoch acquires Dow Jones, then the Wall Street Journal will become the single crown jewel in his crown, and he will want Wall Street Journal to carry the fight, in a way, to the Financial Times very directly.

FOLKENFLIK: It is not known whether Pearson and GE can match Murdoch's offer or what cuts would be necessary at Dow Jones if they did.

David Folkenflik, NPR News, New York.

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