What Do the Rich and Powerful Read?

Many media watchers fear that Murdoch will interfere with the independence The Journal's editors and reporters now have. Such meddling could diminish the paper's stature and influence.

Business Newspaper of Record

So why should those outside the media and business worlds care?

Starkman said The Journal covers everything -- from credit cards to banks to cars to the food supply.

"You want a large, powerful, sophisticated news organization keeping an eye on all of that," he said. "You want somebody looking over the shoulder of the Securities and Exchange Commission, the FCC and the FDA."

Richard Roth, senior associate dean and faculty member at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism, said The Journal is the "first or second most important paper in the country."

"They are clearly the authority in so many things, particularly in business issues," he said.

And if for some reason they change or didn't exist, Roth said: "Who would discover Enron?" referring to problems at the Texas The Journal was among the first to uncover.

The paper has a wide range of knowledge, Columbia's Morgan points out. Not only does the paper cover business, but it also reviews wines, and is a leading voice on technology.

The paper has won 33 Pulitzer Prizes, including one awarded in 2005 to Joe Morgenstern for his film reviews.

"We're so entertainment and celebrity crazed that we're just not getting the kind information to make decisions about who we are as a country," Morgan said. "So as we really do less and less on our news pages, it's more important to have papers like The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and The Washington Post that you can depend on to be there."

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