Last week in the Observer, Robert Thomson told reporter John Koblin that he and Times chairman Arthur Sulzberger had recently shared “a good giggle” over the fact that Thomson’s paper, The Wall Street Journal, has used a portion of Sulzberger’s face to illustrate a feature about men with feminine facial features. It was a cute story, sort of seeming to make both men seem big-hearted and good-humored. But it apparently wasn’t true — a Times reporter told Koblin that in reality, Thomson had merely assured Sulbzerger that the face in question wasn’t his at all — even though the photo credit would indicate otherwise. Awkward!
But that’s just the beginning of the weirdness. Not only was it Sulzberger’s face that was featured; according to Jeff Bercovici over at DailyFinance, it was Thomson’s idea to use it for the girly-man feature in the first place! It wasn’t a popular tactic among the staff, several of whom talked to Bercovici. They “aren’t used to seeing their news pages used to carry out Murdoch’s personal feuds (unlike, say, their counterparts at the New York Post),” he writes. “The reaction, they said, when Thomson ordered a photo of Sulzberger added to the collage ranged from discouragement to horror to sheer bafflement.”
It’s a niggling little story, but very bizarre when you consider the serious readership in front of which this sort of childish gag is played out. Plus, man, it is going to be so awkward the next time we’re all together for cocktails at Tina’s house.