Singer to represent Bancroft family

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The Independent Online

When the Bancroft family finally agreed at the end of August to surrender their decades-long control of the Dow Jones company and its flagship newspaper The Wall Street Journal to Rupert Murdoch in a deal worth $5bn (£2.4bn), they at least were able to insist on seating one of their own on the board of News Corporation.

And so it will be. But according to reports, the Bancrofts made such a hash of selecting that person, the family member who will finally take the seat is a 27-year-old singer who knows almost nothing about the media universe. The Wall Street Journal yesterday brought us the news of the selection of Natalie Bancroft, an opera performer, who had little direct involvement in the sale agreement.

That she will be the nominee and not someone more familiar with the industry came about, apparently, largely because of family bungling, although Mr Murdoch helped whittle out a few other possible candidates, vetoing one and then requesting that the new director should be a woman.

"I don't think we've distinguished ourselves in how we've handled this," the family's lawyer, Michael Elefante, told the Journal. The clan missed a 30-day deadline set under the terms of the agreement for putting forward a candidate, seemingly not even realising such a deadline existed.

Then all their preferred options fell by the wayside. Paul Steiger, a former managing editor of the Journal, declined. John Carroll, a former editor of the Los Angeles Times, was rejected by Mr Murdoch for not being a member of the Bancroft family. When they settled on Mike Hill, an environmental scientist in Boston, News Corp indicated its preference for a woman.

And so it came down to Natalie Bancroft, who wrote to Mr Elefante saying she felt she had "the capacity to handle" taking a seat on the News Corp board.

A letter she wrote at the end of July to her relatives, acquired by the Journal, showed she was opposed to the sale of the Journal because she believed Mr Murdoch was "not the right person to own this newspaper, but on the other hand... do we deserve to own this paper any longer?"