Memo Pad: Far and Away... What a Write-Around... Off the Record, Then On...

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Appeared In
Special Issue
WWDStyle issue 04/04/2011

WHAT A WRITE-AROUND: Wall Street Journal managing editor Robert Thomson did not agree to an interview for a profile written about him that is published in this week’s New Yorker. The magazine’s media writer Ken Auletta also was denied interviews with Rupert Murdoch and Dow Jones chief executive officer Les Hinton. In the piece, Auletta writes that Murdoch has long harbored a grudge toward him because of a 1995 New Yorker profile that was fairly critical of the media titan’s type of journalism. Among other things, in the ’95 piece Auletta referred to Murdoch as “coldly amoral” and a publisher who “has rarely elevated taste or journalism.”

“To advisers and friends, Murdoch makes plain that he remains angry,” Auletta writes in the Thomson profile. “Whether following instructions or not, Thomson declined to cooperate.”

Auletta writes Thomson’s absence into the piece and describes the Journal editor — who will be three years into the job next month — as someone who “likes to remain slightly hidden.” Auletta describes Thomson’s incredibly close relationship to the News Corp. head — Murdoch is the godfather of Thomson’s two children and both are raising their youngest children as Catholics — and the piece is headlined “Murdoch’s Best Friend.” (Wonder how Fox News president Roger Ailes will feel about that.)

Auletta also details how morale at the Journal newsroom is improving after a few rough years of change under the Thomson and Murdoch regime. Several editors — deputy managing editor Alan Murray, economics editor David Wessel and Washington bureau chief Gerald Seib — all come to bat in enthusiastic support of their leaders.

“Rupert Murdoch just turned 80,” Auletta writes, “and the original newsroom fear — ‘What is Rupert going to do to us?’ — has been supplanted by: ‘What will happen when Rupert Murdoch is gone?’”


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