The fate of the Wall Street Journal and its parent company Dow Jones is in the hands of the family that has long controlled -- but from a distance -- the bastion of American financial news.
The Dow Jones board voted late Tuesday night to sell the company to Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. for $5 billion. The Bancroft family, which controls the majority of the voting shares of the company, will meet Monday possibly to decide on the sale, a family spokesman told ABC News.
The battle over the paper's future is essentially a tale of two families. They both have power and influence over the world's media, but that's where the similarities end.
Rupert Murdoch, head of one of those families, has been trying for more than two months to buy out the holdings of the Bancrofts.
Analysts say Murdoch is anxious to own the Journal brand, which he will likely use after he launches a new business television network scheduled to go on the air in October. The operation, now named Fox Business Network, would likely become the Wall Street Journal Channel in what is likely to be a hard-fought battle with biz-net CNBC for ratings. Dow Jones also has something else Murdoch wants -- online news outlets that users are willing to pay to gain access to.
And the Dow Jones empire was available at a bargain price. Shares were languishing in the $30 range because Dow Jones was an low-growth, old-line media company facing increasing economic pressures. The national media company's market cap was less than $3 billion, the kind of money Murdoch's global empire could shell out quite easily.
The Bancroft family initially rejected News Corps.' bid but later opened up to it after Murdoch agreed to protect the editorial independence of Dow Jones outlets with an outside board. Murdoch's conservative politics and aggressive management style have earned him a reputation as being willing to toss objectivity to the side when money or power are to be had. The outside board, which would have control over hiring and firing the top editorial leaders at the various properties, has quelled some of the early concerns over the bid.
There now seems to be a split as some -- presumably younger -- members of the family want to cash out while another part of the family wants to hold onto the paper, or at the very least, not hand it over to Murdoch.
The family has been publicly silent throughout this whole process.
At least one family member and board director, Christopher Bancroft, has been actively trying to block the deal. Another family and board member, Leslie Hill, has been trying to find other buyers. These reports and just about all other news about the sale have been reported in the Journal. Attempts by ABC News to speak with family members have been declined.
Murdoch is a brash media titan known for his hands-on approach to managing his news outlets and, from time to time, the content.
The Australian took over his family's business after the sudden death of his father in 1952.
His oldest son, Lachlan, was an integral part of the company but left after a family dispute. Lachlan's brother James has now filled his role.
The Bancrofts are almost polar opposites.
The Boston family doesn't involve itself in the day-to-day decisions of its media properties. And unlike Murdoch, who often puts himself in the spotlight, they are rarely seen.