As the Bancroft family ponders a $5 billion bid by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation for control of Dow Jones and The Wall Street Journal, they may wish to consider what happened to another newspaper family — the McCartheys, who once controlled The Salt Lake Tribune.

Today, the Tenth Circuit held that the McCarthey kin couldn’t enforce an oral buy-back promise.  Several of the family members testified, with little or no contradiction, that the buyers agreed to let them repurchase the Tribune after five years for fair market value.  But the court went against them.  A contrary decision, the court noted, "would surely trigger the unemployment of thousands of transactional attorneys, as no written agreement would be safe from attack."  MediaNews Group, Inc. v. McCarthey, No. 06-4132 (10th Cir. July 30, 2007) (applying Utah law).

Barry Barnett

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