Marcus Brauchli got screwed, as this virtual gift on the outgoing Journal managing editor's Facebook page so aptly depicts. With his departure goes any pretense that Rupert Murdoch's takeover of the business newspaper will be anything but brutal, and Wall Street Journal reporters are already gossiping about the likely casualties. But there will be winners as well as losers; some of them will even be deserving. Our list, after the jump.
Robert Thomson, the former editor of News Corporation's Times of London, was brought in by Rupert Murdoch as publisher of the Wall Street Journal. His original job description allowed him oversight of editorial matters not customary for a publisher; he's interim managing editor until a permanent successor is chosen and already, this morning, addressed the Journal's editors. News Corporation's plans to turn the business newspaper into a national conservative daily are basically Thomson's; with Brauchli gone, he's free to impose his will. WINNER
Nikhil Deogun. Historians of Nazi occupations were always surprised how quickly parts of the political establishment accomodated themselves to the new masters. The term quisling derives from the puppet leader who did the bidding of Norway's Nazi occupiers. If there is to be a quisling at the Journal it will be Nikhil Deogun. (Okay, mean: let's just say he's the equivalent of Charles Douglas Home, who ratted out Tina Brown's husband, Harry Evans, to become editor of Murdoch's Times of London, in 1982.) Calcutta-bred Deogun, a deputy managing editor, heads up Money & Investing, the section of the newspaper least in need of an overhaul. He's covered politics from Washington, DC, a key area for the new Journal; friendly with Gary Ginsberg, one of Murdoch's key lieutenants and a contact of Deogun's from his days as a media reporter; and political to the point of Machiavellian. "He's ambitious enough to do what Murdoch wants," says one close watcher of the Journal. WINNER
The other four deputy managing editors are all vulnerable. News Corporation executives have already indicated his belief that the organization is top-heavy. Ethics editor Alix Freedman, for example, is charged with spurring the Journal's efforts to maintain and extend the paper's unparalleled reputation for accuracy and fairness. She's pictured here winning 2003's silver medal from the United Nations Correspondents Association. Could any resume be more designed to wind up News Corporation's gruff management? LOSERS
John Bussey, bureau chief in Washington, DC, must go if Robert Thomson is to make the Journal an instrument of political influence. Much of the DC coverage under Bussey and his predecessors has revolved around dry regulatory and legislative matters of significance to business. Expect more purely political news, and someone else in charge of the bureau to deliver it. Bussey's departure will be traumatic: he was a central figure in the efforts to save Danny Pearl, the Journal reporter whose throat was cut by Islamic radicals; they are both part of the Journal's modern myth. LOSER Correction: several credible people have emailed in to say I got this one pretty much completely wrong. Bussey's too recently in the DC bureau to bear responsibility for its dry output, and colleagues say he's shaken up the shop in the six months he's been in charge. Notable successes: Mark Penn's ouster, and the coverage of the HUD scandal. In fact, the Observer has even mentioned Bussey as a possible candidate for the Managing Editor role. Bussey might be tapped if Deogun is seen as too crucial to Money & Investing to take away from that section.
Marcus Brauchli gave his whole career to the Journal, and it must be devastating to be forced out just eleven months after winning the great prize, the role of managing editor. But the severance terms, rumored to be $3m, will salve the hurt. Brauchli is young and well-regarded enough to move on to a second career. (He'd be an excellent hire for anyone setting up an online business news operation.) And, by leaving the Journal, he won't have to impose the will of Murdoch on colleagues, and contend with their inevitable hostility. TOSS-UP
The larvae. Let the Columbia Journalism Review and other tenured hand-wringers bemoan the decimation about to be visited on the editorial ranks at the Wall Street Journal. In any war, a high casualty rate among officers means battlefield promotions for the ranks; some turnover is what the gerontocracies of the American newspaper industry most need. Which was proved by a question I've been asking-who are the young killer reporters at the Journal who'll most benefit from movement at the top?-and this depressing answer from an insider. "It's really hard to say. There are so many layers of editors, that it's almost impossible (and politically frowned upon) for young ones to shine in a noticeable way. Once the ranks are thinned, that will change." WINNERS