Murdochization Proceeds Apace at Wall Street Journal

22 May 2008

NEW YORK: There's more than one way of skinning a cat, as the chieftain of Clan Murdoch (pictured) knows better than most. For example, the resignation and exit this week of the Wall Street Journal's highly respected managing editor Marcus Brauchli.

Brauchli left the editorial chair nicely warmed for NewsCorp's editor-in-waiting Robert Thomson, while the placidity of his farewll message to staff suggests that the pain of his departure had been eased by a generous severance package.
"Now that the ownership transition has taken place," Brauchli wrote in an email to staff, "I have come to believe that the new owners should have a managing editor of their choice."

The new proprietors, he assured WSJ survivors, "rigorously" adhered to the code of conduct set up to safeguard the WSJ's editorial integrity following its acquisition last year by NewsCorp.

But the independent committee that oversees the code of conduct complains that it was not informed in advance about Brauchli's resignation.
Les Hinton, Dow Jones ceo and Murdoch lieutenant for thirty-five years, was apparently in placatory mode and apologised to committee members. "NewsCorp", he said, "believed it was acting in accordance with the agreement and had no intention of subverting the role of the special committee. 
"In hindsight, we recognise it would have more been appropriate to have advised the committee in advance of reaching an agreementwith Mr Brauchli."
According to insiders, Brauchli entered the departure lounge almost immediately after meeting with two Dow Jones executives, allegedly Hinton and editor-designate Thomson.
Observers with long memories liken the current WSJ situation with that of Britain's The Times and Sunday Times back in 1981 when they were acquired by NewsCorp after similar assurances.
As with all Murdochian lieutenants, the views and policies of Robert Thomson and his proprietor are synonymous.
Murdoch has voiced the view that the WSJ should attach greater priority to political and international news stories. An opinion shared by Thomson.
Murdoch is also said to be irritated by some of the [admittedly longwinded] in-depth news analyses for which the paper is famed. A view also shared by Thomson.
A one-time editor of the US edition of the Financial Times, Thomson shares his boss's belief that the WSJ has too many editors relative to the number of reporters. A balance soon likely to be redressed.
When Murdoch's bid for Dow Jones became public last year, he assured Dow's controlling Bancroft family that he had no plans to transplant any of the editors from his other titles to the WSJ. Instead, he expressed his admiration of those running the paper.

He did, however, state that he would call on Thomson for advice in running The Journal.

And, good as his word, the planet's most powerful media magnate did exactly that.

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal Online and New York Times; additional content by WARC staff