Ed Quillen, a writer in Salida, Colo., who produces regular op-ed columns for The Denver Post and publishes Colorado Central, a small regional monthly magazine, writes in the Aspen Times News that the quality of The Wall Street Journal went downhill before Rupert Murdoch came along.
Quillen wrote, “If you’re going to pinch on the news side of a publication, copy editors are an easy place. You can still have as many reporters in the field, filing as much copy as before. The results of this cutback are not immediately obvious. But copy editors are the ‘quality control’ of the news side of a newspaper, and eventually readers start to think, ‘If these morons don’t know to use ‘could have’ rather than the idiotic ‘could of,’ why should we trust them to know how the GATT works?’
“The Journal started running more ‘reader service’ features, especially in its new Saturday edition. Granted, the Journal caters to an affluent audience, but I’m not especially interested in comparative yacht shopping or diamond-adorned wristwatches.
“The Journal started running photographs and color. Those have their place, of course, but I had hoped their place would not be The Wall Street Journal. It started selling merchandise with Journal branding, like flashlights, tote bags and ponchos. This may ‘extend the brand’ in modern marketing parlance, but I’d have preferred some ‘brand building’ from solid reporting and editing.”
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