Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The New York Times
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April 22, 2008

Top Editor of Wall Street Journal Resigns

Marcus W. Brauchli stepped down Tuesday as the top-ranking editor of The Wall Street Journal after less than a year in the job, the newspaper announced Tuesday. His resignation comes four months after the News Corporation, led by Rupert Murdoch, took control of the paper.

The publisher appointed by Mr. Murdoch, Robert J. Thomson — who was most recently the top editor of The Times of London, another News Corporation property — is expected serve as an interim successor.

“Following the change in ownership of Dow Jones and The Journal, I have concluded the time is right to consider new career possibilities,” Mr. Brauchli said Tuesday in a statement. “I revere The Journal and hold my colleagues here, both old and new, in the highest regard. There isn’t a better team in journalism, and I will greatly miss working with them on a daily basis.”

The announcement of the resignation was made after a meeting between the members of the special committee responsible with protecting the editorial integrity of the newspaper, Mr. Brauchli and representatives from Dow Jones and the News Corporation.

A search for a successor will begin immediately.

“Now that the ownership transition has taken place,” Mr. Brauchli said, “I have come to believe the new owners should have a managing editor of their choosing.”

In his new role, Mr. Brauchli will provide guidance to senior management in a range of areas, from advising The Wall Street Journal to exploring the possibility of a business news channel for STAR-TV in Asia.

“Marcus is a brilliant journalist who has played a key role in the growth of The Wall Street Journal over the past 20 years,” the chief executive of Dow Jones & Company, Les Hinton, said. “He deftly guided The Journal’s coverage of every major news event of the past decade and is leaving the paper in a position of great strength.”

Friends and current and former colleagues, all of whom requested anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter, differed as to whether Mr. Brauchli was being forced out, or leaving out of frustration.

Since December, when News Corporation bought Dow Jones & Company, publisher of The Journal, he has immersed himself in the newspaper’s daily operations and quickly made changes in its shape and style. Friends and colleagues say that Mr. Brauchli has been frustrated with some changes, and with the sense that he did not have the control over the newspaper that he was promised.

Mr. Murdoch has said publicly that he wants to make The Journal more of a general-interest newspaper, to compete more directly with The New York Times, though he insists he will not diminish its coverage of business.

To that end, The Journal has increased its coverage of other areas, notably politics, and the bulk of its first section is being devoted to general-interest news. The front page has fewer business articles and fewer of the long, offbeat features that were a signature of the paper.

Journal newsroom employees say that Mr. Murdoch and Mr. Thomson have made it clear that they think the paper has too many editors, and have instructed Mr. Brauchli to thin the ranks, potentially making room in the headcount for more reporters. Two people briefed on Mr. Brauchli’s thinking said that had become a major point of contention.

Under an agreement between the News Corporation and the Bancroft family, who owned a controlling interest in Dow Jones for more than a century, sole power over the newsroom was to rest with the managing editor — Mr. Brauchli — and Mr. Murdoch could not remove him without the consent of a committee of independent overseers. But even the people within Dow Jones who supported that pact said that it would be all but impossible to keep the new owner from having his way.

Reporters and other editors say that while Mr. Brauchli agreed with some of the changes made in recent months, it was clear that many of them were dictated from above, and that he questioned the shift toward general-interest news. And Mr. Thomson has come to be seen in the newsroom as a supereditor, looking over Mr. Brauchli’s shoulder.

Mr. Brauchli, a former foreign correspondent who has been with Dow Jones since 1984, was named managing editor in April 2007, and took the helm the next month. He was a popular choice in the newsroom, where he is well liked and respected.

The Journal has weekday circulation in the United States of more than two million, second only to USA Today.