The Umpteenth Epistle to the Bancrofts

When Rupert Murdoch appeared on Fox News, shortly after his $5 billion bid for Dow Jones became public, the News Corp. chief said that he didn’t expect much trouble from the newspaper’s rank and file.

“Now if I had done this at The New York Times, which was quite an idea,” he said, chuckling with his host (and employee), Neil Cavuto, “I think we would have had a march.”

Sure, Wall Street Journal reporters aren’t donning black armbands and streaming out of 200 Liberty Street in lockstep (and that’s not a joke—they’ve done stuff like that before!), but the letter-writing campaign to Bancroft family members thought to be getting the hard sell from Mr. Murdoch keeps growing.

So far, according to multiple Journal staffers, at least 60 reporters and editors have taken part.

While there is no letter written specifically on behalf of Pulitzer Prize winners—as reported on—according to more than a half-dozen Journal sources, a couple of recent winners have taken part in the general campaign to offer support for the family.

Both James Bandler and Charles Forelle, who were part of the team that won the recent Public Service award for their coverage of backdated stock options, have signed on—along with six others in the Boston bureau. That also includes deputy bureau chief Dan Golden.

Down in D.C., the number’s higher: 23 staffers have signed two group letters sent out on May 3 and 4.

“[I]t’s no secret that we in the newsroom believe that the end of an independent Dow Jones would be an irreplaceable loss to our profession, and our country,” read part of the two-paragraph letter.

Columnist and television pundit John Harwood and Supreme Court reporter Jess Braven are among the D.C. contingent.

Also, several war correspondents—with reporting experience in Iraq, Afghanistan and Sudan—have signed: Neil King Jr., Yochi Dreazen, Christopher Cooper and Michael Phillips.

Another 13 staffers signed from San Francisco, according to a source in the bureau, which numbers about 20 staff members. In Chicago, individual letters were sent out from several staffers, including bureau chief Bryan Gruley.

And in New York, there have been roughly 20 letters sent out, according to a Journal staffer, including senior special writer Joshua Prager, taxation investigative reporter Jesse Drucker, and real-estate and architecture reporter Alex Frangos.

“They have been less directed by the union because of their very nature,” said IAPE C.W.A. union president Steve Yount, of the letter-writing campaign. “We want to show to the family that this is beyond a union issue.”

(He’s thrown a few of these before.)

But Mr. Yount said that the union is ready to take action if needed.

“If marching would have convinced him to drop it, we probably would have marched,” said Mr. Yount, regarding Mr. Murdoch’s bid. “If he needs us to empty the newsroom to prove we’re upset, we can probably do that.”

The Umpteenth Epistle to the Bancrofts