Time magazine reported late last night that Marcus Brauchli, the managing editor of The Wall Street Journal, will be leaving the post that he took on just under a year ago. Brauchli “received a standing ovation in the newsroom when his appointment was announced and was viewed as someone who would safeguard the paper’s credibility” in the face of Murdoch’s impending purchase, Time explained, apparently also in shock at the abrupt departure. The Times has a little more insight, adding that Murdoch (in tandem with his newly appointed publisher Robert Thompson) had wanted to thin the ranks of editors at the paper and had forced changes in the paper’s layout and content that Brauchli was unhappy with. In addition, the paper reports that Thompson “has come to be seen in the newsroom as a supereditor, looking over Mr. Brauchli’s shoulder.” He may serve as interim managing editor while the search for Brauchli’s replacement (already under way) moves forward.
According to a source who knows Brauchli, he was frustrated with Murdoch’s insistence upon making decisions “by committee.” Despite Murdoch’s purchase agreement with the Bancroft family, which stipulated that Brauchli would be independent in making choices for the newsroom, the Aussie mogul would consult advertising executives and News Corp. bureaucrats when deciding what to change. This jives with a Newsweek story this week that says Murdoch is spending half his time managing the Journal. Already speculation as to who will be his successor, and whether this means the Journal as we know it is dead, has begun.