One of the most discouraging recent developments, then, is what James Fallows calls WSJ harmonization:
that the WSJ's news coverage, which for decades has seemed independent from the Journal's editorial pages, is increasingly conforming with the editorial line. My China-beat buddies will recognize the term "harmonization" for this reining-in of unauthorized views.When I first started reading the WSJ in 1980, I was startled to discover that the reporting was first-rate, objective, and not infrequently compatible with liberal interpretations, even while the editorial pages were slightly to the right of Attila the Hun. There was obviously a firewall in place to let reporters work without fear or favor from editorial, and the result was really solid, reliable reporting -- presumably because that's what the hard-headed businesspeople readers wanted.
Fallows is now documenting changes suggesting:
•Hypothesis: Under the ownership of Rupert Murdoch and the editorship of Robert Thomson, the Journal is deliberately bringing its news operations into closer alignment with its editorial views.This is very worrying, because it suggests that not even Murdoch, Ailes, et al., are alive to the political realities. As Paul Krugman said about Mitt Romney's 47% speech, this is what happens when the Inner Party believes the prolefeed. As the WSJ is "harmonized" with Fox News, it will become harder for the business community to chart a course away from Republican Party orthodoxy, and to realize that maybe it's time to have always had a different approach to Eastasia.
•Sub-hypothesis: You don't see this shift in the line-by-line content of the stories themselves but rather in the headlines, subheads, and placement of the stories in the paper. That is, we're looking at editors' work rather than reporters'.
Monday, January 28, 2013
1984, And The Wall Street Journal
Unfortunately, this was inevitable once Murdoch bought WSJ: