The editorial changes now under way represent the ascendance of a cramped, deal-centric vision of a business newspaper over an expansive one.

This outcome was predictable and predicted by me, repeatedly, along with Slate’s Jack Shafer, and maybe a million other people.

The biggest surprise, in fact, is the lack of defense out there for the idea of an expansive Journal.

Shafer now believes “what’s done is done” and even finds some principle in the idea that a newspaper owner ought to have his way, no matter what agreements he may have signed as part of the deal.

Denton buys into the idea that the Journal had gotten old, fat, and complacent:

Let the Columbia Journalism Review and other tenured hand-wringers bemoan the decimation about to be visited on the editorial ranks at the Wall Street Journal. In any war, a high casualty rate among officers means battlefield promotions for the ranks; some turnover is what the gerontocracies of the American newspaper industry most need.

He writes of “self-indulgent feature writers” and endorses the idea that the Journal needs to compete “more fiercely” for scoops.

Gapper of the FT also goes along with the idea that long-form daily journalism is outmoded and the world is clamoring for a world of FTs:

The world has changed since Kilgore and readers have less patience and spend less time with their papers. They want more easily accessible and clearly organised and illustrated news articles.


As I’ve said, the drop-off in the quality of the Journal’s page one in the past decade has been real, and it clearly hurt. For one thing, it left an opening for the Thomsons, Dentons, Gappers, the Australians and Brits, to argue that the old Journal model was tired and out of date.

I say—in fact, I know—it wasn’t the model but the execution.

Great stories will always keep the cynics and bean counters at bay.

My favorite part of the Martinez story, by the way, is the chemo bag bit; I add emphasis because I like the detail:

One day, Mrs. Kelly says, nurses wouldn’t change the chemotherapy bag in her pump until her husband made a new payment. She says she sat for an hour hooked up to a pump that beeped that it was out of medicine, until he returned with proof of payment.

Someone (Nick? John? Robert?) please remind me: Why do we think readers don’t want this?


1. “The Path That Led To Murdoch
David Ignatius
The Washington Post
Aug 2, 2007
pg. A21

2. “Inside Baseball: Giants’ 1951 Comeback, The Sport’s Greatest, Wasn’t All It Seemed —- Miracle Ended With `The Shot Heard Round the World’; It Began With a Buzzer —- `Papa’s’ Collapsible Legacy”

By Joshua Harris Prager
The Wall Street Journal.
Jan 31, 2001.
pg. A1

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.