Brian Fuller's blog on the media, marketing and content creation

Shock and awe at The Wall Street Journal

Posted on | April 23, 2008 | No Comments

The New York Observer has a timely article about Rupert “Rex” Murdoch’s media devourings. In short, after Murdoch acquires a property change doesn’t seem to come, but when it does, it comes on like a hurricane.
Case in point, Wall Street Journal ME Marcus Brauchli (left) is stepping aside to let one of Murdoch’s own take over the paper. This story ran on The Journal’s FRONT PAGE. I don’t think they gave that kind of P.1 ink to legendary editor Robert Bartley when he died four years ago. The story placement is clearly a shot across the bow–of everybody, The New York Times, Journal employees, the media industry, readers. Brauchli said he no longer felt welcome in the Murdoch era.
Already you can feel the change in The Journal. As telegraphed months ago by Murdoch, there’s more political coverage. For what it’s worth, I’m not crazy about it. The analysis is no better that what you can get from 10 billion political blogs. On the upside, the paper will attack a story (mortgage crisis, financial banking meltdown) relentlessly in every section. That’s the kind of coverage we expected in uncertain times. And this week, The Journal expanded its editorial page 50 percent by adding a third page. Agree with their stands or not, you have to give them credit for understanding where one of their brand’s great strengths lie: opinion.
If you’re really interested in The Journal saga, check out Dean Starkman’s analysis in CJR.
For now, the story bears watching as what Murdoch does in publishing has eerie echoes to what Gannett’s former CEO Al Neuharth did in the 1980s–the start of the downfall of American daily newspapers in many ways. It’s an influence we can’t afford to ignore.

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