The Wall Street Journal Under Murdoch: The Same, Bad, or Worse?

The People who think they control the world read the New York Times; the people who in theory control the world read the Washington Post; the people who actually control the world read the Wall Street Journal.

- Anonymous

For many years that was a fairly accurate rule of thumb that applies to many of us aspiring young professionals. But if I was one of those controllers, I'd rather read the Financial Times, Forbes, and The Economist over the Wall Street Journal.

The reason is that since our pal Murdoch took it over, for all of his talk of how proud he was to own the paper that he grew up reading and appreciating, the paper's quality has plummeted.

The cracks started to appear when they added a 'Greater New York' section and hired a sports writer, items which Wall Street Journal readers aren't necessarily interested in (if you want sports, everyone knows you read the Post, not the Times and definitely not the Journal).

Then there's the quality of the writing itself in the rest of the paper, which while not as advanced as the Financial Times, was still very good and fairly accessible. Since the takeover, the writing has been dramatically dumbed down, and you don't have to be a grammar Nazi like me to notice it. Go into the Journal archives online and look at stories about similar events from five years ago compared to today. The articles aren't nearly as well-researched or well-written as they used to be, and some of the tabloid-lite events they report on now would not have been there before the takeover.

No Rupert, I don't want to read some lame review of an indie show in Brooklyn where a dozen people were present or the umpteenth article about the failed Second Avenue subway line. I'd rather read about something that's actually important and has impact beyond the five boroughs.

Even the editorial page has gone south. Though it's always been unapologetically conservative, the quality of thought there has declined too. It's become blind, partisan left-wing-bashing. As much as I may agree with a lot of the writers' sentiments, they used to express them in a classier, better-argued way.

Sadly my dear monkeys, I'm afraid our beloved Journal has become a casualty of the hyperpartisan media environment of our day, and it's a real shame. Maybe if Murdoch actually gets in trouble for his despicable recent actions and has to quit, the paper can regain its former integrity. Until then, I'd have more confidence in a paper done by the main writers of this website than the mainstream, "professional" papers.

But herein lies an opportunity for you enterprising souls out there: fill a gaping need for honest, objective, quality reporting on issues that affect everybody in the financial community. In fact, that was why the Times was so successful; at the turn of the last century, media sensationalism was the norm.

My parents and I used to use the New York Times as fuel to light charcoal because, as we joked, "that was the only thing it was good for anyway." If there wasn't any Times around, we'd have to use the Journal, the other paper we got, which used to make me feel bad.

Not anymore.

Of course, all of that is just my opinion; I could be wrong. Am I?

Comments (14)

Sep 19, 2011

Agree. My WSJ subscription expired this year and I didn't renew it (been getting it since college).
Seriously, Peggy Noonan?

The Economist is the last must - read (and it has the ego to go with it ;-)

Sep 19, 2011

true enough. i have subscribed wsj for 2 years now and feel the quality of their content is getting worse.
our school actually had a a IB forum last week, and most of the bankers there recommended FT over WSJ, guess I'll switch to FT after my subscription expires

Sep 19, 2011

I have been reading the journal since I was in high school, about 10 years. I have noticed a decline in the paper. The writing isn't there anymore. It has morphed into more of an entertainment paper than a true financial paper. I find more and more grammatical errors in the stories. It is hard to explain how the decline has been. It seems like it has been dumbed down so more people can read it. The reading level of the paper was more difficult years ago. Now everything is one or two syllables. The paper's target audience has changed.

Sep 19, 2011

Economist or bust!

Sep 19, 2011

Real men read pink.

"Have you ever tried to use a chain with 3 weak links? I have, and now I no longer own an arctic wolf."
-Dwight Schrute

Sep 19, 2011

Honest to God, if I see the stand-alone sentence "Bond prices move inversely to yields" that was after EVERY SINGLE mention of Tsy yields in the aftermath of the sovereign rating downgrade just one more time .... will not be renewing my subscription when it ends.

Sep 20, 2011
A Posse Ad Esse:

Honest to God, if I see the stand-alone sentence "Bond prices move inversely to yields" that was after EVERY SINGLE mention of Tsy yields in the aftermath of the sovereign rating downgrade just one more time .... will not be renewing my subscription when it ends.

I'm pretty sure I saw that line in the journal just a few days ago lulz
This paper is no good no more, not even for wiping my arse

Sep 21, 2011

Too young to know if WSJ changed for the worse since Murdoch. But since 3 years ago they've been hiking prices like a mothaf**ka. I didn't renew for close to a year, but I agree that the economist IS the best publication out there.

Sep 21, 2011

I always enjoy the Friday crossword in the WSJ. financial times has some weirdo euro puzzle, no interest.

Sep 25, 2011

FT is a lot more expensive than the Journal.

Sep 26, 2011

Price and quality have strong correlation here.

Oct 12, 2011

I have been unhappy with the declining quality of WSJ in recent years. But wife wanted to renew this year. so after letting the subscription lapse for more than two months I bought a new one year subscription. But I don't bother to read it every day. articles have become shallow and sometimes total trash. The paper has become more of an extremist. Many years ago I used to read their Tech section. Now that too have been complete trash. They need to fire their Tech product reviewers.
Like FT but that doesn't cover much of US news. So far the Economist is the only one that maintains its high standards. I really hope that Murdoch doesn't buy The Economist. and destroy it like he did to WSJ.

Jun 16, 2012

Wow, I guess I'm the only one in disagreement. I think the WSJ is much improved since Murdoch took over. Financial analysis, more editorials (although certainly leaning conservative, but not always) and much more rounded content about technology, sports and the arts. I rarely go a day without it. What am I missing?

Jun 17, 2012