OLD Media Moves

Wasserman says WSJ's outlook grim

August 19, 2007

Posted by Chris Roush

Washington & Lee University journalism professor Edward Wasserman writes that he believes that the outlook for the Wall Street Journal is grim under News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch‘s ownership.

Edward WassermanWasserman wrote, “The Journal doesn’t need a blue-ribbon panel of grandees, each paid $100,000 a year to attend quarterly meetings. It needs a wholly independent newsroom Conflicts Committee consisting of Journal staffers chosen by their peers, who would investigate staff complaints about coverage that they believe was improperly inclined on News Corp.’s behalf — and who would publish their findings on a public Web site outside of managerial control.

“And it needs an independent ombudsman to hear similar complaints from the Journal’s sophisticated readers, who have a huge stake in just the kind of editorial independence Murdoch has pledged to preserve.

“Maybe, as some commentators suggest, self-interest will keep Murdoch from meddling with a newsroom whose trustworthiness is its most sparkling asset. But that deterrent works only if such meddling is readily exposed, and that requires mechanisms of transparency that don’t yet exist. Creating them would go some distance toward extending the Journal’s leadership into the arena of institutional honesty and accountability, whatever the wishes of its new owner.”

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