War At The Wall Street Journal
By Sarah Ellison
Narrated by Judith Brackley
The word “War” in the title exaggerates the reality of change at the “Wall Street Journal”.
Exaggeration aside, Sarah Ellison succinctly reports big changes in the newspaper. Ellison writes a very straight forward and interesting account of the takeover of the “Wall Street Journal” by Rupert Murdoch and News Corporation.
Ellison’s presentation does not have the depth and breadth of Halberstram’s 1980s book about media barons (“The Powers That Be”) but it does provide insight to changes that are happening in the newspaper industry.
Murdoch is characterized by some as a devil but Ellison’s picture is not horned or tailed. The “Wall Street Journal” like every mass circulation newspaper in the nation is in the same life boat. Internet torpedoes and their communication speed have ripped holes in the “Chicago Tribune”, “Philadelphia Enquirer”, and “Los Angeles Times”. Even the “Washington Post” and “New York Times” are taking on water.
Murdoch is not painted as a white knight but Ellison’s reporting suggests rescuer is a more apt description than devil.
In depth newspaper reporting is dying. The “Wall Street Journal” is becoming “Todayized” because it is following market demand for short stories; the need for in depth reporting remains but not in the daily newspaper. In depth reporting has been democratized; i.e., individuals will seek their own depth in the internet. The complication for newspapers is integration and monetization of web based reporting.
Murdoch and Sulzberger media conglomerates have conservative and liberal biases that serve their consumer cohorts. Murdoch is riding the media crest that the “New York Times” will either rise to or die. (Gannett Corporation has surfed that crest for years with “USA Today”.) All newspaper articles will become briefer if they are to survive. Internet integration of newspaper reporting guarantees the industry’s future. Media longevity is a matter of change; i.e. newspapers did not disappear with the advent of radio and radio did not disappear with the advent of television; they adapted, they changed.
Newspaper readers who stand and wait will be served. Murdoch over paid for the “Wall Street Journal” for the wrong reasons but with the right results. The Journal is serving its customers better now than before his takeover.