WSJ=Way Smarter Journalists

News Corp is realizing synergies, cross-promoting among its brands. Here’s the latest announcement:

NEW YORK (Nov. 10, 2008) – HarperCollins Publishers and The Wall Street Journal today announced the formation of a three-year publishing partnership to develop books written by the Journal’s expert editors and reporters across a variety of topics for a wide range of readers. Both HarperCollins and Dow Jones & Company, which publishes The Wall Street Journal, are owned by News Corp. The program will be overseen by Steve Ross, group president of the Collins Group, a division of Harper Collins, and Alan Murray, deputy managing editor at The Wall Street Journal, in conjunction with the Publishers and editorial teams from the Collins, Collins Business, Collins Living and Collins Design imprints.

That’s all fine, if a bit humdrum. You have to dig down past the usual canned quotes in the press release to get to the good stuff, which as always emanates from the pen of Wall Street Journal Managing Editor Robert Thomson:

“We needed to find the world’s pre-eminent publisher and, fortunately, that publisher was very close to home,” said Robert Thomson, managing editor of The Wall Street Journal and editor-in-chief of Dow Jones. “The demand for intelligent and insightful books on business and beyond has rarely been greater, and there is no doubt that the journalists at the Journal and Dow Jones generally are far more intelligent and measurably more insightful than journalists at other newspapers.” (emphasis ours.)

The first title, “The Wall Street Journal Guide to the End of Wall Street As We Know It: What You Need to Know About the Greatest Financial Crisis of Our Time – And How to Survive It,” is by former Journal editor Dave Kansas — now employed at a joint personal finance site run by Dow Jones and Barry Diller’s IAC/InterActiveCorp. 

Wall Street Journal refreshes, reloads

wsj-homie.jpgThe’s new look will go live on Tuesday morning, and it won’t look much like the online Journal you’ve come to know and love. (Or hate, if you’re among its competitors.)

The standard blue-and-white look of the old homepage — as seen in the bottom picture — will be gone. Instead, there will be a whiter-looking page with “champagne” offsets for the “What’s News” section and the top. (A “clean, well-lit environment” was the operating principle, according to WSJ Online Executive Editor Alan Murray).

Other changes include a navigation bar across the top of the page instead of down the left side. Community pages invite more interactivity from readers of the site, though people are required to use their real names to post.

Deck shuffling at The Wall Street Journal

wall-street-journal.jpgThe rap on The Wall Street Journal, especially among those who get edited for a living there, is that the editing process could use a little streamlining. It looks like that’s about to happen, judging by Thursday’s memo from top editor Robert Thomson. This is part of a series of personnel changes taking place at the Journal since News Corp bought Dow Jones last year, including the resignations of top editor Marcus Brauchli and top U.S. editor Bill Grueskin:

I am pleased to announce significant changes to the editorial leadership of The Wall Street Journal, changes which will expedite decision-making and give increased authority and responsibility to reporters and bureau chiefs. These changes will take place in tandem with the creation of a central news desk that will allow significantly enhanced co-operation between print, web and Newswires journalists, in New York and around the world. At the heart of our new structure will be a National, International and Enterprise Team, a triumvirate which will report directly to me and to whom the bureau chiefs will report.

Here are the moves among the most senior editors, effective next month:

- Matt Murray, general news editor, becomes national editor.

- Nikhil Deogun, Money & Investing section editor, becomes international editor.

Bleeding purple or just bleeding?

yahoo1.jpgYahoo Chief Executive Jerry Yang says Microsoft just isn’t interested in a full merger these days.

His comments, his most extensive to date on the Microsoft merger drama, back up what had been the talk around town — that chances of a full-fledged merger between the two had dimmed considerably. Yang, however, did signal his company remained open to a potential deal.

“We did not walk away from that proposal. Microsoft did,” Yang said during an on-stage interview at the D: All Things Digital conference.

Back to basics at Time Warner

time-warner-sign.jpgTime Warner Inc is slimming down, concentrating on the content side of the business (forgive the jargon, it’s just that’s what movies, magazines, TV programming are called these days).

The media giant has just unveiled its much-anticipated plans to spin off Time Warner Cable Inc, resulting in the complete legal and structural separation of the two companies.

Plans call for Time Warner to exchange its 12.4 percent interest in TW NY Cable Holding Inc, a subsidiary of Time Warner Cable, for 80 million newly issued shares of Time Warner Cable’s Class A common stock. Time Warner will pay a one time $10.9 billion dividend.

Pearlstine to make the most of Bloomberg

pearlstine.jpgIt looks like Norman Pearlstine couldn’t resist the glamorous life of journalism. After two years in the private equity business at the Blackstone Group Carlyle Group (D’oh!), Pearlstine is joining Bloomberg LP as “chief content officer,” where, as Bloomberg said in a press release, he will work with “Editor-in-Chief Matthew Winkler to seek growth opportunities for its
television, radio, magazine and online products and to make the most of the
existing Bloomberg News operations.”

Pearlstine used to be the editor-in-chief of Time Inc for 11 years, and before that spent 23 years at The Wall Street Journal. More details on his CV, directly from the release :

He was the paper’s top news executive for nine years, serving as Managing Editor and then Executive Editor. He previously worked as the founding editor and publisher of The Wall Street Journal/Europe, the first Managing Editor of The Asian Wall Street Journal, and the Tokyo bureau chief.

WSJ passes the Pepper… and Salt

wall-street-journal.jpgLatest change at The Wall Street Journal in Year One of the Murdoch Era: Venerable editorial page cartoon “Pepper… and Salt” is moving to the leisure and arts page.

We’re almost surprised that a Frankenstein-style mob hasn’t already taken pitchforks and torches to the Dow Jones building. After all, it’s one of the paper’s longer-running traditions. Heck, even the editor-in-charge of the cartoon has been at it for 58 years, The New York Times reports.

The Journal would not comment on why the 58-year-old cartoon was moved last week, or what the future holds for “Pepper … and Salt” in the new Murdoch era.

WSJ’s Heard on the Street: Shrinking?

Rupert Murdoch has earned the disdain of many Wall Street Journal staffers by saying their stories often are too long , especially some of the front-page juggernauts that take their time getting started.

While the page-one woes got all the attention, it looks like he and his crew were doing some editing elsewhere in the paper as well. The Heard on the Street column, which contains all sorts of interesting analysis and tips about buzz in the financial world, seems to be nearly half its former size some days.

Friday’s feature, “Lehman Brothers Seen As Cheap Recovery Bet ” by Peter Eavis and David Reilly, measured 431 words. Compare that to the (now weirdly prescient) “A Microsoft, Yahoo Tie-Up? ” that Robert Guth and Kevin Delaney wrote for the May 3, 2006, edition, at 1,224 words.

WSJ Page One, now with 53 percent less Wall Street!

murdoch-chart-3.jpgMany Wall Street Journal watchers bemoan new owner Rupert Murdoch’s greater emphasis on political and general news coverage in the paper, but so far their evidence has been anecdotal.

Not anymore! The Project for Excellence in Journalism (PEJ) furnished numbers that give an exact percentage on the decrease in business news that gets on the front page of the nation’s most powerful business daily. Here’s an excerpt from the report:

Under the Murdoch regime, the single biggest change in front-page coverage occurred with politics and the presidential campaign. From Dec. 13, 2007 through March 13, 2008, coverage more than tripled, jumping to 18% of the newshole compared with 5% in the four months before the ownership change.

Bancroft: WSJ editorial integrity group a ‘fantasy’

Although Marcus Brauchli’s decision to resign as the top editor at The Wall Street Journal — announced on Tuesday — did not require the approval of the paper’s editorial integrity committee, they will step in when it’s time to hire the next one. 

The committee was designed to safeguard editorial independence by approving or vetoing the hiring choices in case its new owner, News Corp’s Rupert Murdoch, attempts to use his candidate to evade a solemn promise to keep the newspaper’s editorial dignity intact. It was one of the few safeguards left behind by its previous owners, the Bancroft family, as a condition for agreeing to the Murdoch’s takeover.

How effective will the committee actually be? We asked former Dow Jones board member Christopher Bancroft on Tuesday.