The Wall Street Journal's managing editor Robert Thomson is close to News Corp. chief Rupert Murdoch, personally and professionally. But that doesn't mean the Aussie is above somehow roughhouse ribbing of his corporate siblings.
Take Thomson's comments at the goodbye party for longtime Journal man Dan Hertzberg, the deputy managing editor pushed into retirement after 32 years. They may have been good for staff cohesion, but we wonder if lead Fox News viper Roger Ailes will take them so cheerfully.
The story as we've confirmed it with three different WSJ staffers, is that Thomson, in praising Hertzberg's newsgathering skills, ended up discussing the newspaper's new "Hub," an area on the sixth floor with loads of flat-screen displays blaring TV news around the clock — the beating heart of the new, multiplatform Journal. Thomson (pictured) was saying Hertzberg is like a human version of that room, or something, with his ability to gather and process news. Whatever.
The line that pricked up reporters' ears was when Thomson joked that the real reason the Hub was built was actually to "double the viewership of Fox Business Network," or words to that effect, making fun of the network's vanishingly small audience. Zing!
Thomson then instituted a "new old tradition" of "banging out" forcibly retired staffers by pounding on the wall as they walk out of the newsroom for the last time. Apparently this is a British thing and, according to one staffer (disclaimer: American), awkward, especially on deadline after many long speeches. Back to the Fox bashing, please; that's the sort of catty backbiting a great many English-speaking journalists can really enjoy!
(PIc: Esther Dyson)