The Wall Street Journal shouldn’t wake up
The New York Times thinks it knows like its big rival who knows Wall Street Journalcan grow its readership and improve its strategic position in the big media space: it should become more like that New York Times.
This is the message from an extensive article by Edmund Lee in the latest issue Times Sunday business section. In the play, Lee reveals that the diary “Makes money. A lot of money.” He explains that this is partly due to the diaryThe brilliant early internet strategy of charging digital content to almost every other publisher, including the Times, gave it away. But this early success, says the author, “also kept the paper from innovating further.” And that’s a problem, he writes, for a news agency whose readership is mostly white men – and “at a time when the US population is becoming more racially diverse”.
Aha. That’s it. If this concept arouses even a little suspicion among readers, a full review of Lee’s article would reveal why this suspicion is warranted. The writer says that the diary must be “woken up” in the selection and presentation of the story, similar to today Times. And this view is shared by an internal diary Committee that produced a 209-page “content review” examining how the diary “Should be redesigned.” The report, writes Lee, “argued that the paper should attract new readers – especially women, people of color and younger professionals – by focusing more on issues such as climate change and income inequality.”
The so-called content review went further, recommending “stepping up efforts to include more women and people of color in all of our stories”. This also includes equitable surveillance of the race and gender of people quoted in news; How this could possibly be done through routine interviews on issues that may or may not involve racial or gender issues is incomprehensible. Who is behind this call for journalistic vigilance from the venerable? diary? One Louise Story, the newspaper’s chief news strategist and chief product and technology officer. With a title like this, she must have quite a background. And of course, before you join that diary She spent a decade as a reporter and news manager at – surprise, surprise – the New York Times.
It appears that Story, who runs 150 employees and heads the committee that spawned content review, was hired by diary Editor Matt Murray to address an issue. News Corp., which owns diary Publisher Dow Jones wants the company to double that diaryOnline readership to increase sales and make up for significant losses in many of the parent company’s other publishing and broadcasting companies. It’s a big job, if it’s realistic at all. The remarkable thing about Story’s Content Review (as described by Lee), however, is how bland it is about the goals it was trying to achieve. Does anyone really believe that this mountain of strategic challenge can be conquered by monitoring the racist background of the respondents?
Based on Times Articles, the greater likelihood is that Story was just taking the all-too-delicious opportunity to leverage the news agency’s strategic imperatives to bring their lively prejudices to the world diaryCorporate culture. Either that or Edmund Lee poorly explained the full contents of the content review. There’s very little in that Times Describing the report’s recommendations beyond obsession with diversity.
Here I note (as a disclosure for reader rating) that I spent a dozen years in my early adulthood treating Washington for the United States diary and its sibling weekly that National observer (long deceased). The WSJ was an amazing success story in those years. Using satellite technology to broadcast newspaper pages to various printing companies across the country diary increased the circulation from around 1.4 million in 1974 to almost 2.2 million just 12 years later. The income flowed in.
Part of that business success came from the news managers’ belief that they knew what readers wanted from a newspaper that was completely different from other news papers around the country. Even then, some people thought so diary, with its unique front page format and conservative editorial area, should be more like this Times or the Washington Post. But top executives knew better. It wasn’t just a distinctive paper. It had a distinctive audience: top executives and financiers – rich, bright-minded, and lots of money on high-end consumer goods and even more money to invest in business improvement.
Of course times have changed and they have diary had to keep up with these changes. Sometimes it was so brilliant, sometimes not so much. Over the years, however, the sections have been expanded, a weekend edition has been added, the editorial and op-ed area expanded, the Internet has been used with great success, and a more general approach to the news has been taken to become more direct under Rupert Murdoch – its owner since 2007 – to compete with Times. All of this turned out to be a good move.
So what’s up now? Well, it doesn’t seem like much different from the kind of criticism that popped up in the paper in my day, except that based on Edmund Lee’s play, it looks like the paper is now renting out with competing views on how it is should try to expand the circulation. The Times The article reports on a “newsroom riot” by employees who are thinking pretty much along the lines of content review. And here’s the kicker: These employees want that diary to bring the social justice movement to the fore and address the problem that “the Conservative Opinion Division has published articles that do not meet reporting standards.”
When news agents investigate the opinion department that needs to be protected from the press of the news site (and vice versa), you know that it is an ideological conflict, not a dissemination. And the core is wakefulness. The biggest difference between that Times and the diary these days that is the one Times is deeply permeated by the sensitivity seen in his news, editorials and columns, book review, Sunday Arts & Entertainment section, and throughout the newspaper. The diary has opposed this siren call for the ideological left in lockstep that the Times News and editorial presentation, although small elements of bright thinking increasingly invade the world diaryThe news too.
And now, based on Edmund Lee’s play, we know the diary can enter into some sort of corporate civil war over all of this. It appears news workers set up a private Slack channel called “Newsroomies” where they discussed the paper’s need to take on the Louise story view of the new direction. And there seems to be a gap between the editor Murray and the new one diary Editor Almar Latour. Lee quotes a diary Executive with the words, “They hate each other.” More importantly, they disagree with the direction of the paper. Lee admits some diary Executives on both the news and business sides have dismissed the story report as “a bright strategy.” But the newsroomies are promoting this strategy.
That brings us to a further distinction between the Times and diary that may be under challenge now. In the TimesIncreasingly, news workers maintain the balance of power in large and sensitive personnel decisions. This was observed in two violent controversies in the editorial office and in the newsroom last year.
First, the newspaper ousted its editorial page editor, James Bennet, after allowing no less than one United States Senator to comment on the newspaper’s pages. Times The publisher A. G. Sulzberger initially defended the direction of the play by Tom Cotton from Arkansas. After all, there should be a broad mix of opinions in the area of opinion. But then news workers initiated what the Washington Post called a “whirlwind of turmoil”. Sulzberger gave in under pressure.
Then last February the Times Acclaimed science writer Donald McNeill Jr. dismissed a controversy over his use of the N word to speak to students about racism while on a South American tour. Initially Times Editor-in-chief Dean Baquet punished McNeill for “bad judgment” but did not take serious action based on the clear reality that the Times The writer used the word for illustration only and had shown “no hateful or malicious intent”. But the newsroom rose again and produced a staff letter expressing “outrage” at McNeill’s action and Baquet’s gentle reaction. Baquet gave in like Sulzberger.
When newspaper managers lose control of key hiring decisions through internal mob initiatives, it is a sign of inadequacy of leadership, as we do at the Times. The diary has avoided such developments, but the newsroomies pose a threat to traditional leadership dominance in the newspaper. Editor Matt Murray has done himself and his organization a disservice by highlighting key elements of the decision-making process related to the future of the paper of an internal ad- hoc unit that compromised his own control over such decisions.
The Wall Street Journal shouldn’t go woke up. It should focus on its traditional Bill of Fare, which includes news and information for and about business leaders and the financial elite, as well as a distinctive opinion section devoted to enlightened conservatism. Lee writes that WSJ Readers are dying off, but he doesn’t back it up with anything other than wispy anecdotes. The circles of endeavors that have been the red meat of the coverage for that diary since its inception, they will not go away, although they will clearly continue to include more women and minorities. And they are a strong element of American society, big enough and alive enough to keep the paper going as long as the Dow Jones leadership keeps a clear focus on what their paper is and how it uniquely relates to America Journalism contributes.
Robert W. Merry, former Wall Street Journal The Washington correspondent and CEO of Congressional Quarterly is the author of five books on American history, including the most recent President McKinley: Architect of the American Century (Simon & Schuster).