Change is afoot at the Wall Street Journal. As of Wednesday, mega-mogul Rupert Murdoch is just a day shy of officially owning The Journal (although shareholders haven’t officially signed off on the sale yet), but he’s already looming large at the paper’s Dow Jones & Co. headquarters.
The New York Times:
For The Journal’s editors and reporters, this is a time of both anxiety and anticipation about what will happen when more than a century of independent family ownership reaches its end.
During the protracted takeover battle last spring and summer, many of them expressed concern that Mr. Murdoch would shape The Journal’s news pages to promote his own business and political interests—a News Corporation practice that The Journal itself documented in a long article—or simply cheapen the august paper.
But Mr. Murdoch also pledged to open the purse strings to expand The Journal’s reach, a prospect many people welcome at a newspaper with years of stagnant advertising revenue. Already, The Journal has offered significant raises to journalists it wants to hire and to some who were considering leaving the paper, with Mr. Murdoch calling some reporters personally to ask them to stay.
Mr. Murdoch has said that he wanted The Journal to step up its coverage of politics and national and international affairs, making it a more direct competitor to The New York Times. He has lobbied for more hard news and more succinct articles—a marked shift in tone for a newspaper whose signatures include long, often quirky news features that start on the front page.
There has even been talk of a front page with articles short enough to start and end there rather than continuing on inside pages, and of taking the words “Wall Street” out of the paper’s name to give it broader appeal, according to people who have been briefed on the matter. Both ideas were quickly dismissed, but the fact that they were raised even semiseriously shows how unconstrained by tradition the new owner is, these people said.
Ladies and gentlemen, Rupert Murdoch has entered the building.