Marcus W. Brauchli will step down as the top-ranking editor of The Wall Street Journal after
less than a year in the job, four people briefed on the matter said on Monday, just four months after Rupert Murdoch took control of the paper.
Mr. Brauchli, 46, will announce his resignation soon, according to friends and current and former colleagues, all of whom requested anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter. They differed as to whether he was being forced out as managing editor of The Journal, one of the most coveted posts in journalism, or leaving out of frustration.
The news of his pending resignation was first reported on Time magazine’s Web site.
Since December, when Mr. Murdoch’s News Corporation bought Dow Jones & Company, publisher of The Journal, he has immersed himself in the newspaper’s daily operations and quickly made changes in its shape and style. Friends and colleagues say that Mr. Brauchli has been frustrated with some changes, and with the sense that he did not have the control over the newspaper that he was promised.
On Monday night, both Mr. Murdoch and Mr. Brauchli attended a dinner of the Atlantic Council, a group promoting international cooperation, at which Mr. Murdoch was being honored. Approached there, Mr. Murdoch declined to comment about any change in editors; Mr. Brauchli said, “I can’t talk.”
Mr. Murdoch has said publicly that he wants to make The Journal more of a general-interest newspaper, to compete more directly with The New York Times, though he insists he will not diminish its coverage of business.
To that end, The Journal has increased its coverage of other areas, notably politics, and the bulk of its first section is being devoted to general-interest news. The front page has fewer business articles and fewer of the long, offbeat features that were a signature of the paper.
Journal newsroom employees say that Mr. Murdoch and the publisher he installed, Robert J. Thomson, have made it clear that they think the paper has too many editors, and have instructed Mr. Brauchli to thin the ranks, potentially making room in the headcount for more reporters. Two people briefed on Mr. Brauchli’s thinking said that had become a major point of contention.
Under an agreement between the News Corporation and the Bancroft family, who owned a controlling interest in Dow Jones for more than a century, sole power over the newsroom was to rest with the managing editor — Mr. Brauchli — and Mr. Murdoch could not remove him without the consent of a committee of independent overseers. But even the people within Dow Jones who supported that pact said that it would be all but impossible to keep the new owner from having his way.
The Journal’s Web site reported Monday night that Mr. Thomson — who was most recently the top editor of The Times of London, another News Corporation property —may serve as an interim replacement for Mr. Brauchli.
Reporters and other editors say that while Mr. Brauchli agreed with some of the changes made in recent months, it was clear that many of them were dictated from above, and that he questioned the shift toward general-interest news. And Mr. Thomson has come to be seen in the newsroom as a supereditor, looking over Mr. Brauchli’s shoulder.
Mr. Brauchli, a former foreign correspondent who has been with Dow Jones since 1984, was named managing editor in April 2007, and took the helm the next month. He was a popular choice in the newsroom, where he is well liked and respected.
The Journal has weekday circulation in the United States of more than two million, second only to USA Today.