Brauchli, a former Beijing bureau chief and Journal staffer for twenty-four years, was a popular choice to succeed Steiger. His appointment alone raised morale. Some staffers had reported a new energy coursing through the paper, even as they bridled at some of the editing on page one.

I certainly didn’t like some of it. I thought the writing lately has been flat as a pancake, especially the ledes, the stories’ beginnings, even on stories that turned out to be good.

The bloody protests that have roiled Tibet expose more than this society’s resentment toward the Chinese government: The rioting also reveals a deep split between everyday Tibetans and the Tibetan elite who cooperate with the Chinese state to rule the region.

Officials said.

I also had a feeling that page-one didn’t fully understand that the blame for the mortgage crisis is not a toss-up between borrowers and the financial services industry.

But even if the true leders—well-developed feature stories—had been reduced to one a day, from two, the strong ones and fun ones and core ones to me seemed to appear as least as frequently as before the simultaneous Brauchli/News Corp. takeover, and the dreary duds were no more frequent.

But Brauchli’s exit is a bit like the boy taking his finger out of the dike.

With Brauchli gone, the Journal newsroom loses not just a topflight editor and bureau chief, a great Asia hand, and someone who was a real, live reporter, one who displayed sophistication (1), prescience (2) and conscience (3). It also loses a surprisingly savvy internal diplomat who, I thought, might just have been adroit enough to manage the inevitable tensions that would arise from the takeover, at least enough to preserve some of the Journal’s great journalistic heritage.

I don’t think the dike is going to hold.

I’ll have more on what I think is coming in another post. And, no, it’s not good that Murdoch is buying Newsday either, for some of the same reasons I’ll get to.


1. Speak No Evil: Why the World Bank Failed to Anticipate Indonesia’s Deep Crisis —- It Often Soft-Pedaled Effects Of Country’s Corruption, Misread Extent of Poverty —- `Caught Up in Enthusiasm’
By Marcus W. Brauchli
Staff Reporter of The Wall Street Journal
14 July 1998

2. Cost of Growth: China’s Environment Is Severely Stressed As Its Industry Surges —- Beijing Seeks Foreign Help In Addressing a Problem With Global Implications —- Role for Western Companies
By Marcus W. Brauchli
Staff Reporter of The Wall Street Journal
25 July 1994
The Wall Street Journal

3. Toil and Trouble: Workers in New China Often Find Hardship Tied to Opportunity —- Forced Overtime in Factories, Poor Food and Dank Beds Fill Their Long Days —- Now Unrest Is Spreading
By Marcus W. Brauchli and Joseph Kahn
Staff Reporters of The Wall Street Journal
19 May 1994

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.