The fact is, the wrenching sale of the Journal’s parent in 2007 in effect grafted a News Corp. head on the Journal’s body. The graft never really took, and ever since a web of senior editors from the ancien regime has struggled to maintain old standards and practices while adapting to the new leadership. Freedman was part of that, my sense, a key part.

Of course the Journal still does great stuff—thanks in large part to this legacy—and will in the future. But there is a point of no return, and we’re fast approaching it.

I’d say Freedman’s departure could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back, but it feels more like an anvil.

And another thing: The Journal’s loss may be Reuters’s gain, but this isn’t a zero-sum game. The unraveling of the Journal’s storytelling machine is a huge loss for the public. Reuters, in the end is, a wire, from an entirely different journalism tradition. It may one day be something else, but it has a long way to go.

The Journal really was unique. Maybe it can still be. Maybe not.

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Dean Starkman Dean Starkman runs The Audit, CJR's business section, and is the author of The Watchdog That Didn't Bark: The Financial Crisis and the Disappearance of Investigative Journalism (Columbia University Press, January 2014). Follow Dean on Twitter: @deanstarkman.