Varadarajan writes, “No, Murdoch has not ruined the Journal, as many had feared he would. In fact, in the estimation of not a few, he has already made it a better newspaper. The A-hed, which had acquired an aching mediocrity in the last years of Paul Steigerâ€™s reign as managing editor, is actually readable again–and often pegged to the news (which is no bad thing in a newspaper). Page One of the Journal used to be, arguably, the most smug front page of any newspaper in the world, in that it exercised a pompous right to ignore the news, and to inflict on its readers a species of ‘long-form journalism’ rooted in the belief that size was everything.
“Like Olâ€™ Man River, those ‘leders’ — the in-house name for front-page stories — just kept rolling along, with their anecdotal openings, buried leads and 2,000-word jumps to other pages of the paper. These pieces were often edited by four or five different editors, each making his or her own self-aggrandizing demands and corrections, often with scant respect shown to the hapless reporter whoâ€™d written the darn piece in the first place.
“Let us give Murdoch his due: The Journalâ€™s news stories are now shorter, sharper, newsier and more relevant. The paper is expanding. He is the only press mogul who does not have to butcher his payroll and put reporters on the dole. And yet, people complain, which can only lead one to conclude that there is an ad hominem foundation to many critical evaluations of the Murdoch Journal: To wit, many people simply do not like Rupert Murdoch. In fact, he scares people.”
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