Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Wall Street Journal is discarding its identity as the business newspaper

I've frequently talked in this blog about things I first read in the Wall Street Journal. [I've subscribed to the Journal since I got a discounted subscription in grad school, twenty years ago or so.] But over the past several months, there has been a noticeable falloff in articles I find useful. It occurred to me last week that I very rarely see anything in the first section of the paper that is interesting to me as a general business reader. There's lots of politics, a fair amount of finance, international affairs... and that's it.

And then, earlier this week, I noticed that they've taken another page out of section one to devote to opinion. This may make some subscribers happy, but to me it's another page to turn past.

The Marketplace section feels unchanged, but that's small comfort. Now there are maybe eight to ten interesting pages in a typical issue of the Journal. And that's not enough.

Finally, the reasons for this are clear. New owner Rupert Murdoch is imprinting his stamp on the paper. Yesterday's news that the managing editor, Marcus Brauchli, was stepping down, was credited to Murdoch wanting his own people making the editing decisions. "Now that the ownership transition has taken place, I have come to believe the new owners should have a managing editor of their choosing," wrote Brauchli to the newspaper staff. [Which begs the question, whatever happened to the "hands-off" agreement that the Bancrofts supposedly negotiated?]

Murdoch apparently wants to build a general-interest newspaper to compete with the New York Times (with political views he likes better). He may reach that goal, but at the cost of losing what was distinctive about the Journal--a high-quality, daily look at business.

In which case, he'll lose at least one long-term subscriber.



Anonymous said...

Here here!

It is sad to see the WSJ go down this path. Insightful articles go by the wayside but lots of pretty pictures come in?

The in-depth, behind the scenes stories will be lost and with it the edge that came from reading the WSJ. Is the FT a better business daily now or is nobody interested in what is going on in business besides the headlines?

A sad day after so many years of enjoying the WSJ.

Anonymous said...

It was disappointing to open the WSJ today and find an ad in the lower right corner. Do you ever remember an ad on the front page of a newspaper? The change in this paper from good journalism with indepth research to broad generalizations is noticable. There was a time I could use this paper as a reference point to prove a point. Now, it's risky because the writing seems hurried and short. It was such a good paper. Good Bye WSJ you had a good run!

Anonymous said...

I am cancelling my subscription also. There is no need to pay fee for it because i can find the same information free from main stream media websites. As business readers we need to find a new source...

It is very sad... I believe Murdoch will sell it half of the price he bought in 3-5 years.