Journal Walks the Plank with Commodity News

"Arrrrrr," says Audit

So Rupert Murdoch wants the Journal to be a first read, to compete with The New York Times on general news. It’s a terrible move, as we’ve written here many times. Today provides an illustration of why.

The WSJ fronts a generic (though well-written) news story that could have been come off the wire. Commodity news, in other words, that you can get anywhere.

The New York Times and Washington Post also have their straight news stories on page one. But each has an accompanying piece that spins the story forward and tells us what it means and what it may come to mean.

The headlines tell the tale. Here’s all you get from the Journal:

“Snipers Kill Pirates, Save Captain”

But here’s the Times:

“Captain’s Rescue Revives Debate Over Arming Crews”

And the Washington Post:

“An Early Military Victory for Obama”

The irony is the Journal invented the form, and it’s what papers need to move toward to survive in the 21st century.

But Robert Thomson and Murdoch are moving the paper backward. Its pirate story barely even has a nutgraf. This is not progress, and it’s bad business.

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Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at Follow him on Twitter at @ryanchittum.