The Wall Street Journal's Yankee Situation
We in the media love nothing so much as writing or reporting about we who work in the media. So it gives me great pleasure to write today about what's going on at the Wall Street Journal.
They are our editorial partners. The fellow there who holds the same title I do, managing editor, quit today. His name is Marcus Brauchli, and by all accounts he's a top journalist and popular in the newsroom. He's been in the job about 11 months. He worked hard to get it -- a whole career's worth of hard work, frankly, to earn arguably the best job in American newspapers.
Shortly after Brauchli's appointment was announced last year, Rupert Murdoch decided to buy the Journal's parent, Dow Jones & Company. Somewhere along the line, the conversation went something like this: "Good morning, Mr. Brauchli. The good news is you've been named managing editor of the Wall Street Journal. The bad news is you've been named managing editor of the Wall Street Journal, which is now owned by Rupert Murdoch."
Mr. Murdoch is the last of the great old-style media moguls. He knows how to make newspapers dance. That's not to say he always makes money with them. The New York Post comes to mind. But he sure knows how to make them sharp and entertaining. As I was saying, The New York Post comes to mind.
Now, four months after gaining control of Dow Jones, the new owner clearly is exercising the prerogatives of ownership. Brauchli, part of the paper's longtime establishment, stood in the way of that. He wasn't exactly fired, or so it seems. But then again, neither was former Yankee manager Joe Torre.
Last fall, as you may recall, the Yankees made Torre an offer he couldn't accept. So he left. Brauchli confronted a similar situation -- an owner who didn't want him running things anymore. So Brauchli popped a Torre. He stepped aside before it got ugly. That takes guts and good sense, though one suspects that Brauchli's guts were somehow fortified financially.
Now Rupert Murdoch, the crafty, Steinbrennarian eminence of the media biz , gets to put a new manager in place. It will be interesting to see whether the new guy turns out to be a Torre, a Billy Martin -- or a Stump Merrill.
We in the media will all be watching. And writing...and writing...and writing...