In case any of you felt the misguided impulse to come to the defense of the Wall Street Journal’s editors (see our post of December 24), consider Eric Alterman’s commentary on the paper’s redesign:
Letters to the editor have been moved off the editorial page to page B10 or 11. Normally I wouldn’t mind this, but in the Journal’s case it matters, because the extremist ideologues on the editorial page often make false claims about people and then, rather than printing a correction as would a genuine journalist, they simply let the mistreated individual make a counter-claim in the letters page. This is from What Liberal Media?:
The Journal editors, moreover, play by journalistic rules of their own making. In a lengthy examination in the Columbia Journalism Review, Trudy Lieberman examined six dozen examples of disputed editorials and op-eds in the paper. She discovered that “on subjects ranging from lawyers, judges, and product liability suits to campus and social issues, a strong America, and of course, economics, we found a consistent pattern of incorrect facts, ignored or incomplete facts, missing facts, uncorroborated facts.” In many of these cases, the editors refused to print a correction, preferring to allow the aggrieved party to write a letter to the editor, which would be printed much later, and then let the reader decide whose version appeared more credible. Almost never is the record corrected or does the paper admit its errors.”
Good for Alterman for having footnotes, but be aware that the Trudy Lieberman study is from 1996. However, the second citation is from 2002. I for one haven’t noticed any change since then.
The redesign looks surprisingly cheap and cheesy for a paper that sees itself as the mouthpiece of capitalizm. Those big headlines with all that white space in them makes it looks like they don’t have enough copy or ads to fill the paper, as if they are making do with what they have. It has a Depression feel, a real sell signal.