Gone are the days when the Wall Street Journal newsroom left brutal attacks on other media outlets to the Journal's rabid editorial page. Rupert Murdoch bought the paper to wage war, and it's happening.
New York Times editor Bill Keller has been practicing his jabs and left hook for some time. He called Murdoch's Journal "New York Times lite" at a staff meeting in February. This month he was quoted in the Nation musing on the rival paper's "identity crisis:"
If the paper has made up its mind what it wants to be, it's not clear to me... I really miss the long, well-told narratives and ambitious investigative projects. [The Journal's editor] decries that kind of journalism as a self-indulgence...
The Journal's managing editor Robert Thomson is feuding a bit harder, edging toward the bare-knuckled combativeness of his corporate siblings at the New York Post and Fox News.
Here's a memo he sent to staff earlier today. Along with the chart above, it's supposed to prove the Journal caters to the sort of active, engaged readers who pick up the paper on the newstand. USA Today and the Times, meanwhile, are for the non-sentient.
If this all reads like something out of a reality television show, well, maybe that's for the best: young people seem to pay far more attention to those types of programs than to newspapers. To change that, the industry might just have to borrow some tactics.