Murdoch dumbs down the WSJ

Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

And his editor is proud of it.

The CJR headline pretty much captures what's going on in Murdochville:

Identity Crisis: The Wall Street Journal steers away from what made it great

But hey, at least the Journal's still publishing! And against that industry Armageddon backdrop, the fact that the Journal has gone from a great newspaper to an okay in quick order probably isn't that big a deal.

But what's really depressing is reading the new Journal editor (Robert Thomson, Murdoch's hand-picked Australian successor) brag about how dumb the paper has become. Indeed, Murdoch's team thinks the whole experiment of turning the Journal into the nation's black-and-white USA Today has been a roaring success.

"Certain U.S. newspapers," Thomson says, "have been designed for journalists rather than for readers." With a chuckle, he avoided saying whether he's talking about the Journal, but it was obvious that he was. Journalists, he says, too often choose "self-indulgence over readability. If a reader is used to the Web, he has developed a ruthless functionality in reading—just clicking on what he's interested in." Turning to a newspaper, Thomson says, that reader then "confronts this Neanderthal product. Taking four paragraphs to get to the point is too long. Where is the editorial empathy?"

Basically, Thomson and Murdoch want to the turn the newspaper into a wire service. Good luck with that.

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