Rupert Murdoch has already been busy at work remaking the Wall Street Journal, pushing the paper’s coverage to include much more politics and general news. Now newly appointed editor Robert Thomson is trying to eliminate some of the more cherished Journal traditions, such as the 6-level editing process, and stories that take more than five minutes to read.
Today’s changes, laid out in a memo today (see below) aren’t the scary re-org and cuts that we’ve heard the WSJ rank and file has been worried about lately. But you can see how that might play out down the road: In general, Thomson has said he wants to increase the number of beat reporters and decrease the number of managers.
Murdoch signaled that this was coming last month, at the D conference he now owns (we’re paraphrasing here except for one quote):
Journal copy touched or edited by 8.3 people. “That’s ridiculous”. Stories get too long, and people don’t have time for it. Can do it in half the space.
Today’s thrust? “Increased authority” for bureau chiefs and reporters and a new, centralized news desk to get print, Web and Newswires journalists to work together. Sounds fine to us. The desk will be run by three deputy managing editors, all reporting to Thomson: Matt Murray becomes National Editor, essentially replacing Bill Grueskin; Nikhil Deogan becomes International Editor; and Mike Williams becomes head of the Enterprise Team, overseeing what Thomson calls “an expanded” Page 1.
*UPDATE: One editor left out of the reorg, Laurie Hays, jumped to Bloomberg after 23 years at the Journal. We don’t know the circumstances of her departure, but given the paper’s streamlining of management ranks, we don’t imagine she’ll be the last to go.
The full Thomson memo:
From: Thomson, Robert
Sent: Thursday, June 19, 2008 12:55 PM
To: WSJ All News Staff
Subject: Editorial leadership
I am pleased to announce significant changes to the editorial leadership of The Wall Street Journal, changes which will expedite decision-making and give increased authority and responsibility to reporters and bureau chiefs. These changes will take place in tandem with the creation of a central news desk that will allow significantly enhanced co-operation between print, web and Newswires journalists, in New York and around the world.
At the heart of our new structure will be a National, International and Enterprise Team, a triumvirate which will report directly to me and to whom the bureau chiefs will report. Effective July 7, Matt Murray will become National Editor, overseeing American general and corporate news, and Nikhil Deogun will become International Editor and directly oversee our global network of bureaus and correspondents. Mike Williams will preside over a broadened Page One, being responsible for investigative reporting, as well A-heds and leders. The troika, who will become Deputy Managing Editors, will sit close together in what could prosaically be called a “news hub”, thus streamlining commissioning and editing decisions, and giving them a central role in the production and presentation of copy for the paper and the website.
Mike Miller, who continues to oversee the Journal’s features sections, is to be Senior Deputy Managing Editor and will be responsible for editing the paper if I am otherwise engaged. Cathy Panagoulias becomes a Deputy Managing Editor and will take a greater role in providing administrative support for bureau chiefs and in hiring decisions. Jim Pensiero is to be Deputy Managing Editor for operations, and is masterminding our move to Midtown and the introduction of a new publishing system. Alix Freedman will have expanded authority as a defender of the paper’s ethical and journalistic standards. Alan Murray will remain as Executive Editor of the Journal Online, which will have a more influential role at the heart of the reformed news structure, and becomes a Deputy Managing Editor.
Deputy Managing Editor Dan Hertzberg will take responsibility for the European and Asian editions, and will have the task of building our editorial presence and profile in Europe and, in particular, in the U.K. Reg Chua becomes Senior Assistant Managing Editor, and will oversee the Design Team – a new Director of Design will be appointed in coming days – and the development of data resources.
Most news organisations in the U.S. and around the world are in retreat, but Dow Jones is expanding its reporting resources, rapidly developing its digital content and providing journalism of the highest integrity to an ever larger audience in The Wall Street Journal.