FT's Editor: The Wall Street Journal Wants To Be Like Us

lionel barber ft financial times

The Financial Times’ editor Lionel Barber took a swipe at the Wall Street Journal, which has been undergoing a number of changes since Rupert Murdoch took over.

When asked is the WSJ trying to be more New York Times or more Financial Times nowadays? Barber tells Dean Starkman at the Columbia Journalism Review:

Well, I think that they are practicing the sincerest form of flattery—I think they are! They are clearly adopting the lessons that we’ve learned, and they’re adopting some of the tactics and some of the approach that we’ve taken. Their stories are shorter. They’re trying to catch up on global news coverage. And yeah, I think they are trying to be a bit more like us.

And, here’s how Barber says the FT went from upstart in the US to must read. The US edition started in 1997.:

The crucial insight, which I think evolved fairly quickly, I absolutely drove this message home, was, Look, we’re not competing head on with these big beasts. We’re just going to take a slice of their market, and we’re going to take the most lucrative slice. We’re going to go for the decision-makers. We’re going to be absolutely must-reading for the top level of bankers. We’re going to make a push in Washington, into the Congress, for the lawyers and the eco-system here, if you like, on Wall Street. We’re not going to be a general newspaper. We’re going to be a business and financial newspaper, and this is the key, we’re going to bring the world to America. The FT is going to be the newspaper of globalization—that was the slogan; that’s what I said. Therefore there was a tremendous focus to our editorial coverage, and we made a virtue of being a global newspaper, a global perspective.

We don’t have a lot of people, but we can cause a lot of mayhem with a small number of people, they each have their missions, they work together, we’re not lumbering. I don’t want to say that American newspapers are overmanned, but they have a lot of journalists. We’re a lot nimbler! And if you’re nimbler you can be more focused.

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