OLD Media Moves

WSJ staffers say NYT column unfair, but questions raised about Thomson

July 19, 2011

Posted by Chris Roush

Michael Calderone of The Huffington Post writes Tuesday about the reaction from staffers at The Wall Street Journal to New York Times columnist Joe Nocera‘s take down of the paper this weekend, while questions are being raised as to whether Journal managing editor Robert Thomson should be overseeing the paper’s coverage of the News Corp. phone hacking scandal given his friendship with CEO Rupert Murdoch.

Calderone writes, “Still, the idea that Thomson could be promoted as a result of the current scandal adds another potentional conflict of interest. (Four years ago, I questionedthen editor-at-large Paul Steiger’s role in overseeing coverage of Murdoch’s takeover, given the financial gains he’d reap if the deal closed.)

“Thomson hasn’t recused himself when it comes to Murdoch-related coverage, even as the phone hacking scandal’s ensnared executives he’s worked with for years. Thomson declined to comment for this article, and Journal staffers spoke on a not-for-attribution basis because they’re not authorized to speak on the paper’s behalf. But when asked about Thomson’s role in coverage, a spokesperson responded: ‘As with all major stories, coverage is overseen by the relevant teams — in this case out of London and New York — with involvement from multiple editors, including the managing editor, as appropriate.’

“So far, Thomson and deputy Gerard Bakerwho worked as a conservative columnist before becoming the paper’s second-in-command — have been hands on. The Daily Beast recently described a conference call between Baker and London bureau chief Bruce Orwall in which the deputy reportedly signaled support for Rebekah Brooks, the News International chief who resigned Friday and was then arrested in connection with the phone hacking scandal. From that, it might be assumed that Journal staffers are being hamstrung.

“But several Journal staffers say Thomson and Baker have actually been pushing for more coverage as the scandal’s grown bigger. On Friday, both Thomson and Baker discussed hitting the major story from a variety of angles, according to staffers with knowledge of the editorial conference call.”

Read more here.

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