Here’s a little inside baseball during a slow vacation week in August:

Two years ago, I suggested the changes that Rupert Murdoch was making to our beloved Wall Street Journal created an opening for both the NYT and the FT.

To borrow the words of the Columbia Journalism Review, the Murdoch approach of: “de-Journalizing the Journal, sexing up headlines, cutting story length, diluting depth, adding more stock photos and commodity news, going to straight-news ledes, replacing much of the masthead with non-WSJers, and heading generally to the more slap-dash, once-over-lightly British model” created an opening for others. I made the following suggestions:

“The coverage looks to becoming less business and money oriented, and more of a general interest paper — kinda like what the Washington Post and the New York Times already do.

In trying to extend the WSJ’s reach, Murdoch has left open its flank. That creates the opportunity for shrewd operators to expand their Business news. Hence, the opportunity for would be Journal’s competitors, and in particular, the NYT, to go after the Journal’s audience. The business goal would be to capture a significant percentage of the Journal’s expensed subscriptions.”

Apparently, I am not the only one who saw the problems with the Journals “Less Wall Street” approach. CJR is reporting that several senior Journal reporters who covered Wall Street for the WSJ have departed for the Times:

Susanne Craig, one of The Wall Street Journal’s star Wall Street reporters, is moving to The New York Times, a boost for the Times and the latest blow to the Journal’s coverage of that core beat.

Craig told The Audit she’s “looking forward to a new challenge.”

Craig’s departure follows that of Peter Lattman, another Journal staffer who also went to the Times, and earlier, that of her former partner in Wall Street coverage, Kate Kelly, who left for CNBC.

Fascinating stuff.

One would think that if your name was the The Wall Street Journal,  your emphasis would be Wall Street related news. Apparently, that view seems not to be the case, and a few reporters are voting with their feet.

Do not get me wrong — 3 reporters does not make a mass exodus. But its a safe bet that there will be future stars leaving the Journal for the Times, FT, Economist, and elsewhere.

Now the question remains: Will the NYT follow my advice, and substantially beef up their Business coverage ? Stay tuned . . .

>

Previously:
Murdoch’s WSJ Changes Creates Opening for NYT, FT (April 24th, 2008)

WSJ Jumps the Shark (January 22nd, 2010)

Sources:
Susanne Craig leaving WSJ for the NYT
A blow to the Journal
Dean Starkman
CJR, August 30, 2010
http://www.cjr.org/the_audit/susanne_craig_leaving_wsj_for.php

Two Can Play That Game, Rupert
The Times has the smarter strategy in the head-to-head with The Wall Street Journal
Ryan Chittum
CJR, August 30, 2010
http://www.cjr.org/the_audit/two_can_play_that_game_rupert.php

Category: Financial Press

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

34 Responses to “Why Are WSJ Reporters Defecting for NYT ?”

  1. Jim Greeen says:

    The first indication of change @ WSJ was when they gave voice to that political hack from Texas. What’s next comics? gossip?, maybe even a style column authored by Paris Hilton.

  2. Evoo Kermartin says:

    Main resistance to stealing share will be the NYT’s reputation for liberal bias, IMO. Can they set a tone that will allay those concerns in WSJ refugees?

  3. krice2001 says:

    One would hope ultimately that there’s a price to pay for dumbing down. That’s how the free market is supposed to work both for employees and readers/customers, I suppose. At one time, I actually read the WSJ, now I look here to get “The Big Picture”. I do read the nytimes.com but so far not specifically for business.

  4. NoKidding says:

    I know why I’ve switched jobs in the past. You show me a copy of their 1040s from last year and next year, and I’ll tell you a story about change and inspiration.

  5. philipat says:

    I know it’s only a quote, but the “British” comment is unfair and incorrect. The British media in general provide much more in-depth coverage and the audince doesn’t expect sound bites. Even the European )London based) edition of CNBC is substantially more detailed than in the US. Remeber that the FT and The Economist are both British.

    Of course, the tabloids are the tabloids all over the world and this is where Murdoch (aka The dirty digger) made his money, so they’re close to his heart and influence his approach. He is on record as having said “Nobody ever lost money by under-estimating the intelligence of the ordinary people”. Nice.
    He now seems to be extending that rationale to the readers of WSJ.

    BTW, Murdoch was originally Australian not British. He became a US citizen because of the media ownership restrictions on non=Americans. Aren’t you lucky!!

  6. nucemgd says:

    Philipat –

    I believe the wonderful HL Mencken was the originator of that quote – “Nobody ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American public.”

  7. druce says:

    Kind of hard to stomach paying a subscription fee to the guys who bring us Glenn Beck, Bill O’Reilly, publish with a transparent agenda and then claim everyone else is (horrors!) biased.

    Especially when you can highlight any subscriber-only headline, right-click and search for it in Google and get it without the fee – kinda makes you feel like a chump for paying.

    No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people … although paying trophy prices in a dying industry might be the right recipe to lose your shirt. Wouldn’t surprise me to see Bloomberg owning the thing in 10 years.

  8. investorinpa says:

    The NY Times is unreadable. I live in the Philly area and find the font, size, and type of lettering for the NY times to be not worth my money. I read whatever I want online for free anyway. Having said that, the WSJ is still a pretty good paper in terms of stuff they cover, the RE section on Wednesdays, and several other must read features. I wish more of these “journalists” would go to the Investors Business Daily, which could use some REAL beefing up on their stories.

  9. rktbrkr says:

    Just Rupert being Rupert, doing what he promised not to do, “this time it will be different”, NOT!

  10. rktbrkr says:

    Asia and Euroland down a bunch today, NIKKEI down 3.25%. Digesting Gentle Ben’s hollow promises?

  11. WFTA says:

    Pre Rupert Murdoch:
    The editors of the WSJ could not explain what “complex financial derivative” meant.
    Post Rupert Murdoch:
    They don’t see any reason to try.

  12. mdanda says:

    A journalist actually having job options is news in itself!!

  13. GuinnessFan says:

    The H. L. Mencken quote was “Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public”. Politicians, media types, and Wall Street have proven that true over and over again.

  14. Ny Stock Guy says:

    My only beef with the WSJ is the damn NY section. It’s all fashion and movie stars and the hamptons. It is utterly worthless, but at least it takes up less room than the same dreck in the NY Times. I guess I will have to switch to the FT.

  15. Mannwich says:

    If they do that, I might pony up for the Times daily. Right now, I only get the Sunday and hardly read that anymore due to slowly declining quality.

    I cancelled my WSJ last year and don’t regret it one bit.

  16. My subscription to the Journal is up for renewal–they want almost $500 for a year! No thanks. Not when I can get the same stuff free over the net. I’ve had a Journal subscription almost continuously since college (25 years). When this one runs out, that’s it.

  17. Mannwich says:

    Exactly Curm. I’ve actually gone back and forth about cancelling my local paper and the Sunday Times so that for the first time in my adult life I’d receive no papers. I hardly read them anymore but almost feel compelled to at least get the local to stay somewhat on top of what is going on around here. Not sure it’s worth the dough anymore though.

  18. ella says:

    Given the observable and known News Corp slant… why would anyone read the WSJ? I stop as soon as he bought it.

  19. NormanB says:

    Now if Gerald Seib would go to the NYT (a sinking ship, by the way) with his liberal commentary. Bye, bye Gerry.

  20. AHodge says:

    this is too bad
    While WSJ suffered a whack job editorial staff and page for years,
    the reporters and stories have often been first rate.

  21. VennData says:

    If you glance at today’s – 8/31/2010 – WSJ’s front page, here’s is what you know about the world:

    Islam is converting blond, Western woman
    Global warming is a crock, it’s supporters liars
    Congressmen cheat on their expense reports
    The Clintons trust North Korea
    Reckless fashionistas endanger their lives and drive up healthcare costs
    Californians waste municipal funds and are are surfer-obsessed, liberal air heads

    …If you manage to get into the paper you’ll find out that:

    US gov’t regulators will funk your car
    George Bush is a military hero/genius
    The Emmys honoring FOX news irritant Jon Stewart were “Short of Smash”

    …And you’re wondering why journalists would leave this fount of “accurate” information.

  22. zitidiamond says:

    The first page I turn to when I read the Wall Street Journal is Rupert’s editorial page, which I find more entertaining than Page Six, at Rupert’s New York Post.

  23. zitidiamond says:

    @NormanB

    I don’t doubt that the New York Times is a sinking ship for you and your acquaintances, but it’s online audience is far and away, the largest in the United States.

    http://washington.bizjournals.com/washington/stories/2010/06/14/daily34.html

  24. NormanB says:

    @zitidiamond

    It may be the most widely read on the web but only the crosswords (which I subscribe to) make a buck. Since, you are a NYT lover how about getting the smartest man in the world, Paul Krugman, to figure out how to save the NYT? Or for that matter, all of the brilliant folks over there. If they were so smart they’d be making money. QED: The aren’t as smart as they and their readers think they are.

  25. tawm says:

    While the WSUrinal is clearly heading downhill, the NYTimes is so hopelessly left biased and NY-centric that it’s hard to imagine it catching up to the WSJ.

  26. biker1263 says:

    Canceled my subscription yesterday. FT + NYT + other blogs are all you need. Too much fluff at the WSJ. Also should mention FT Alphaville – worth the price of FT subscription alone.

  27. Bob A says:

    “… kinda like what the Washington Post and the New York Times already do…

    … except with a subtle John Birch Society/FoxNews twist ..

    gimme a freakin break

  28. smallcog2 says:

    I will let my introductory price subscription expire soon. I can’t read editorials or op-eds any more. There is something unsavory emitted by the WSJ.

  29. ToNYC says:

    The WSJ is sinking faster than Rupert’s idea he had a way to influence that audience. His only play is to forcibly change that audience and start again. Someone, somewhere might believe WSJ is
    about Wall Street’s real business.
    Cognitive Dissonance is a wonderful misdirection introduction to be ducted.

  30. philipat says:

    @VennData:

    “…And you’re wondering why journalists would leave this fount of “accurate” information.”

    I think you mean Fair and Balanced Information?,,, :-)

  31. Brian says:

    No, three reporters leaving The WSJ for The NYT doesn’t make a mass exodus, but you are looking at it in a partially wrong way. Not all reporters are leaving for The Times. That paper already has a massive staff, as its coverage has been much more comprehensive in general for years. Instead, a decent number of reporters are leaving for The Times and for other outlets. As Ryan Chittum noted in the CJR link you provided:

    the DC bureau alone has lost Greg Ip, Greg Hitt, Greg Jaffe, Peter Spiegel, Yochi Dreazen, Susan Davis, and Fawn Johnson in the last year or so.

    We can’t be sure of exactly why all of these people left. Surely some of them left for better paying jobs and/or better opportunities. But if there’s one major institution in the country that has an owner with deep pockets who isn’t afraid to spend some money, it’s The WSJ owned by Murdoch. It might change in some ways–it did lose money in 2009, after all–but it’s in no danger of doing out of business. The same can’t be said for other papers, so one has to think that there are other reasons a lot of top people are leaving.

    Also, The Times doesn’t need to steal that many people to really hit The Journal where it breathes. Unless there was a truly massive expansion, there won’t be separate columns devoted to small stocks, large stocks, world stocks, and so on. Instead, it needs to continue to poach top people, who can also be pretty productive in the sense of doing the job that two people might, who can also help supplement the coverage that The Times is already known for–i.e. how Wall Street news affects national policy. The Times is doing just that, it seems, and combined with other acquisitions, like FiveThirtyEight.com, it looks like it’s making the better moves.

    I’ll still never understand why Murdoch didn’t just buy The New York Sun and work on expanding that paper. I can’t imagine he’d be spending that much more money compared to what he’s spending to change The Journal. If nothing else, he could have shipped it free for a year or two to every household in the New York metro area that already subscribes to The Journal. Oh well…

  32. louiswi says:

    The biggest change at the WSJ apparently went un-noticed as of yet. That change was me canceling my 45 year alegiance to it. Rupert will likely make money with his changes but at the expense of the rest of us with his unbelievable crap agenda. It’s time to vote with your feet.

    Check this link for what kind of stuff Rupert believes has value to our society.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W3J_QLtYqlk&feature=related

  33. stm13 says:

    Wow…talk about delusional posts.

    A paper whose circulation is not only the highest in the country, but which is holding steady, loses some reporters to a newspaper whose circulation has been dropping like a rock (down from 1,039,031 to 951,063 in 12 months alone, the latest of many declines), and which has racked up big losses and sold assets to raise cash, and somehow this is important.

    Having spent my entire life in journalism I can tell you that what reporters most want in their job is NOT what readers want. The only significance, if any, of these moves is that it shows that the Times still hasn’t figured out what’s wrong with its business.

  34. NormanB says:

    @stm13

    Finally, someone who knows the business and can pinpoint the issue. As I’ve said before, if the people at the NYT were so darn smart the paper wouldn’t be in a death spiral. Thus, they aren’t that smart.

    Because I hate their liberal bias and how it screws up our knowledge as to what’s going on in the country and world I am not going to divulge my simple solution to their problem which is already working in other venues. Down with the NYT and all of the others like them.