To me, Steiger’s legacy, which will be fully assessed elsewhere, included (but is obviously not limited to) the kudzu-like growth of bureaucracy, particularly at the assistant/deputy/assistant-deputy/chief-associate-assistant deputy managing editor level, even as Dow Jones stagnated financially. It reminded me of the Rhode Island court system. Not only was it expensive, it created a baroque court culture that inhibited dissent and, for that matter, most interesting conversation. This, at a newspaper, is unhealthy.
Brauchli, thankfully, has pruned some undergrowth, and now directly oversees page one and the Money & Investing section, among other things; both decisions are throwbacks to a pre-Steiger era. But the operation is still top-heavy. I don’t know if anyone is sure why there is still a WSJ Europe and WSJ Asia, for instance.
In that vein, the ascension of Laurie Hays to head special projects, including investigations, will bear watching. Hays oversaw the paper’s superb post-9/11 coverage, a monstrously difficult job. However, investigations are closest to The Audit’s heart. Nothing the paper—any paper—does is more important. I don’t see how this new layer helps investigative teams headed by Mike Siconolfi (one of the best in the business) and Mark Maremont, who just helped lead and write the tremendous stock-options series that won the Pulitzer for Public Service.
1. See the deeply weird: “Hitting the Skids: As Old Pallets Pile Up, Critics Hammer Them As a New Eco-Menace—They Can Deliver the Goods, But They Clog Landfills And Gobble Up Trees—A Hilton for the Furry Set,” April 1, 1998.