With a courage not witnessed in these parts since the Queen and Winston Churchill and Rudy Giuliani saved London during the Blitz, this weekend's Pursuits section shows the rest of the WSJ how to go on living with editorial integrity even as the barbarians near the gates. Indeed, "happily married...but not to each other" assistant managing editors Alan Murray and Laura Landro submit another hard-hitting "He Shops, She Shops" gift advice column, this time for the occasion of Mother's Day. Oh NO! Is today Mother's Day?! Nope, that's next weekend. But, no matter. One senses that pleasing Mom is mostly about thumbing a nose at abusive megalomaniac potential Stepdad — that is to say, Rupert Murdoch.
Consider Alan "He" Murray's suggested presents. A three-month supply of croissants from Williams-Sonoma ($89) is a good bet, he says, as is a MySpace-age photo frame from Brookstone that cycles through family JPEGs while playing accompanying MP3s ($299). The latter seems a clever way of supervening media-monopoly broadcasts, no? And about those croissants?
I direct you to this article in the New Statesman regarding the inability of the hyper-respectable, semi-socialist BBC to compete with commercial interlopers like NewsCorp.'s British Sky Broadcasting:
Tough external regulation, forcing the BBC back to its core purposes, might provide the best hope of redeeming its reputation. Left to themselves, BBC bosses seem certain to plunge further into populism and empire-building, just as the opinion-forming classes blow the whistle ever more loudly. Their claim to have renounced croissants and consultants, bureaucracy and waste, is also bound to be rumbled.
Butter this, cost-cutter brute! Laura Landro is less aggressive, though perhaps ultimately more subversive (so that's the difference between genders!). "She" suggests monogrammed pajamas and lockets from RedEnvelope ($80-115), or "If you think that's too kitschy, there's also a necklace with Chinese characters for the words 'mother' and 'daughter.'"
Here's one crackerjack cover story you won't be reading in Good Weekend magazine any time soon - the revealing inside account of the life and times of Wendi Deng. That's because the story, a vast 10,000-word profile that took its writer three months of research across the world, was killed by Good Weekend's editor (or someone above her) two days ago.
Crikey has learned that Good Weekend editor Judith Whelan commissioned Eric Ellis, a highly regarded Australian freelance journalist based in Singapore several months ago to write the definitive story of Wendi Deng, the Chinese-born wife of Rupert Murdoch.... The story is believed to be the most detailed account ever written about one of the world's most interesting and - through her marriage - most powerful women. It follows a provocative Wall Street Journal profile of Deng in 2000, titled "Rupert Murdoch's Wife Wendi Wields Influence at News Corp", which caused a furore within Murdoch family circles because of the information it revealed about the genesis of the Rupert-Wendi relationship and the sensitive area of the breakdown of Murdoch's 31-year marriage to Anna, the mother of Elisabeth, Lachlan and James.
Last year, Hong Kong's Next Magazine investigated Deng's early years, interviewing teachers, friends and classmates, dredging up some embarrassing childhood snippets (as noted in The AFR). "She had many talents — basketball, badminton, volleyball", said teacher Zhang Shan Li. "Academic ability was just above average."
Moving on to the p.j.'s, "I'm partial to the Heart Safari pajamas," explains Landro, "white T-shirt with a pink satin heart appliqué paired with cropped zebra-striped pants and coordinating satin trim" ($50). Nasty! Cf. Reuters:
To finance these acquisitions, Murdoch at times has gone to the brink, piling on so much debt in the early 1990s he needed a major restructuring to survive.... Often he has proved his critics wrong, seemingly going to any length to meet his goal. The publisher once dashed out at midnight in his pajamas to an airport to argue with officials that a fog preventing a newspaper-delivery flight was only a light mist.
Of course, this is all fun and games until someone gets canned. So in the end, Landro soundly beats Murray on the realism front. Her last Mother's Day tip? "Quick getaway" (approx. $2000 for three nights).
Mother's Day Gifts: He Shop, She Shops [WSJ]