Four Ws From the WSJ

The Wall Street Journal messes up a story atop its Marketplace section today that reports that a judge ordered American Airlines to make its flights available on Orbitz.

Here’s the top:

American Airlines must make its flights available on Orbitz Worldwide Inc.’s websites, an Illinois court ruled Wednesday, a legal victory for the online travel industry in its battle with air carriers over fees for flight and fare information.

In granting Orbitz’s request for the order, the Illinois Circuit Court of Cook County dealt a setback to American, which accounts for about 5% of the Chicago-based travel site’s revenue.

So why did the judge rule that American has to put its flights on Orbitz? That’s something that, if not in the lede, should be in the second or third paragraph.

But the Journal never gets around to telling us. It’s like a metro paper reporting “Judge Sends Smith to Jail” without telling us what Smith did.

Bloomberg is better:

Illinois Circuit Court Judge Lee Preston in Chicago yesterday ordered AMR Corp. (AMR)’s American to reinstate’s and Orbitz for Business’s ability to ticket its flights. Preston overturned a decision denying a request by Travelport LP for a preliminary injunction. Travelport owns about 48 percent of Chicago-based Orbitz.

“The court agreed with Travelport that an injunction should have been granted against AA in December which would have prevented AA from terminating its contracts with Orbitz,” Travelport said in an e-mailed statement.

Okay, so an Illinois judge reversed an earlier ruling denying Orbitz an injunction. Still, it would have nice to have known why the judge reversed the order.

McClatchy does something similar:

Initially, the Illinois court had ruled in favor of American, saying the carrier did not have to provide its fare information to Orbitz LLC while the two parties settled their contract dispute in the courts. Wednesday’s ruling grants Orbitz a permanent injunction, forcing American to make its fares available on the site.

That at least gives some bearings to readers who haven’t been following this story.

It goes without saying, but don’t forget the “why” in your five Ws.

Has America ever needed a media watchdog more than now? Help us by joining CJR today.

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. Tags: , , , ,