Posted by: Jon Fine on June 12, 2007
The Wall Street Journal’s new top editor, managing editor Marcus Brauchli, is putting the finishing touches on a massive reorganization of the financial daily’s top editorial ranks.
Chief among the changes: Daniel Hertzberg—who, as the paper’s senior deputy managing editor, is its second-ranking editor— will head to Europe to edit the Wall Street Journal Europe and possibly take on broader responsibilities. Mike Williams, the current WSJ Europe editor and a rising star at the paper, will return to the U.S. to assume a new high-profile editorial role. In a brief phone conversation, Hertzberg declined to comment. Williams could not be reached.
Many aspects of Brauchli’s planned changes remain unclear. Adding to the confusion, several top editors at the Journal were huddling at a company offsite at the posh Four Seasons in Scottsdale, Arizona, and were not expected back in the Journal’s New York offices until June 13. Staffers at the Journal have been buzzing about the changes since last week. An announcement from Brauchli, who via email declined to comment on the matter, is expected this week, perhaps as soon as June 13.
The changes are expected to be Brauchli’s first moves toward remaking the Journal’s storied news operations and, so far, appear to center around high-ranking editors’ assignments.
Brauchli, who was named as the successor to longtime Managing Editor Paul Steiger in mid-April, took the reins of the Journal at a uniquely turbulent juncture in its history. Rupert Murdoch had made clear of his desire to purchase the Journal’s parent company Dow Jones for about $5 billion in a breakfast meeting with company CEO Rich Zannino in late March. That news broke to the world on May 1—precisely two weeks before Brauchli took over from Steiger.
The Bancroft family, who control Dow Jones’ shares through a two-tier stock structure, are currently at work on proposals to ensure some degree of editorial autonomy for the Journal. A hours-long meeting between the Bancrofts and Murdoch last week was described to have gone well, but no additional meetings are currently scheduled as News Corp. waits to hear about the Bancroft proposal. It does not look likely that Murdoch himself, who is in the U.K. this week, or his son, James—who attended last week’s meeting with his father—will appear at the next meeting.
Insiders remain confident a deal still looks likely. Talks between GE, which owns cable news network CNBC, and Microsoft over making their own run at Dow Jones ended without result.
One executive familiar with those discussions said they predated Murdoch’s breakfast with Zannino.
UPDATE: very early 6/13: Additionally: Mike Miller to be promoted from Page One editor to Deputy Managing Editor. Former Wall Street Journal Europe editor Mike Williams to be Page One Editor. Deputy Managing Editor Edward Felsenthal’s role to change in some fashion, though I’m unclear on specifics.
I get the distinct feeling that I’m a blind guy who’s only grasping a few parts of the elephant. Suspect we will know shortly exactly how this all shakes out.
(This item impossible without the contributions of my colleagues Michael Orey, Tom Lowry, and Lauren Young.)