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Wall Street Journal watch continues

ImagesWe've been following the slowly unfolding changes at the Wall Street Journal from when Rupert Murdoch fought to acquire Dow Jones to what kinds of changes he's been forcing since the acquisition took place last year.  The latest event on the timeline occurred yesterday, as the paper reported this morning the appointment of Robert Thomson as managing editor of the Journal and editor-in-chief of Dow Jones.

The most interesting aspect of the story was centered on the fact that Thomson was most recently publisher of the paper, but is now shifting to the editorial side.  I immediately thought about whether this meant a blurring of the lines between publishing and editorial, but the story was quick to point out that the "appointment was approved unanimously by a special committee formed to oversee the Journal's editorial integrity." 

The committee was formed as a condition of the acquisition last year because of concerns of similar moves made by Murdoch after previous acquisitions.  The story, however, suggests that this committee's authority was quickly usurped because of the fact that it was not informed about News Corp.'s intentions to let go the Journal's previous editor, Marcus Brauchli.  The committee complained and the story reports that News Corp. "apologized to the committee" and vowed to work in concert with the committee.

The fact that Thomson's background and training is as a business journalist and editor obviously makes him qualified to lead the Journal forward, but it is indeed rare for someone to boomerang back to the editorial side after becoming publisher.  Clearly, however, it's consistent with the fact that Murdoch is looking to remake the Journal.

I actually read the story in the print edition, as I'm at a conference center in New York, and it was nice to consume the news this way for a change.  As I live online now, I admit it's been a while since I've really read the paper in print, and was amazed at the change so far.  The shorter news stories were very evident, but the stories above the fold were about Ted Kennedy's brain tumor, the continued rescue effort from the China earthquake and the military's moves to use alternative fuels.  Nothing like the front page of the business paper I've know for 20 years.

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