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Wall Street Journal

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Did Judy Use ‘Journal’ to Settle a Score?

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Leonard Levitt writes a weekly muckraking column about life and issues within the NYPD. In this week's offering, he connects some interesting dots about Judith Miller’s recent Wall Street Journal op-ed defending police brass after revelations that the department spied on peaceful protesters before and during the 2004 Republican convention. The spying program was revealed in March by New York Times reporter Jim Dwyer. Miller's piece mentioned Dwyer by name and questioned his reporting: “The material this reporter read," Miller wrote, “does not show that the police monitored such peaceful groups and individuals because they opposed their political views.” What Levitt is the first to note: “Defectors’ Reports on Iraq Arms Were Embellished, Exile Asserts,” one of the numerous stories to eventually debunk Miller's prewar WMD work, was written by Jim Dwyer. Merely a coincidence, right? —Ben Mathis-Lilley The NYPD and Judith Miller [NYPD Confidential]

Murdoch Won't Meddle With ‘Journal’ Edit — But Wants Shorter Articles, More D.C. Coverage, and Is Flummoxed By Walt Mossberg

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Rupert Murdoch has today gone to — of all places — the Times to make a very public case for his Wall Street Journal bid. We were sold on the story by its photo alone, of Rupe luxuriating on a white couch — sorry, a "taupe sofa," according to Richard Siklos and Andrew Ross Sorkin's account — but it got even better as we read on. The mogul makes a number of specific points about how he'd improve the paper. He's bored by some long articles and wants to take the Saturday Journal glossy to compete with the Times Magazine. He'd like to see more coverage of Washington. He reads but doesn't quite "get" tech columnist Walt Mossberg. Then there are the Rupert classics: globalize and synergize. Television! India! China! (The Great Wall Street Journal?) Those ideas of change aside, Murdoch swears that he "won't meddle" with the editorial side or cut staff. Unless he will: "I'm not saying it's going to be a holiday camp for everybody," he says. The paper's union rep is already organizing an e-mail drive asking the Bancrofts to stay strong. Murdoch on Owning the Wall Street Journal [NYT]

Pulitzers Announced; ‘Times’ Only Wins One

The Pulitzer Prizes were announced about a half-hour ago, and let's put it this way: It's a good day for Hassan Elmasry. The Times snagged only one award this year, in the Feature Writing category. That's the same total as the Daily News and Newsday — and for that matter, the Oregonian, the Miami Herald, the Los Angeles Times — which all also won one prize, but without the pesky dual-class ownership that Elmasry so dislikes and we'd all like to argue protects the paper's superior journalism. Then again, it was a year without any big winners, and the only paper to win two prizes — the Wall Street Journal, with Public Service and International Reporting — is a dual-class paper, too. Congratulations, Bancrofts. The Pulitzer Prizes 2007 [Pulitzer.org]

‘WSJ’ Teaches Kids New Slang

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The Wall Street Journal reaches perhaps unprecedented levels of taxonomic analysis today with a page-one item about the emergence of "bucket" as a business term. Seems that, in the exec vernacular, "bucket" is now being used to describe company units, revenue sources, markets — in short, anything that can be grouped, categorized, or partitioned. It's used as a verb ("to bucket" a guy is to assign him a place), as an adjective ("the investor is looking for something buckety," as in big and solid), and pretty much as a substitute for any other word in the language. "Silo" is gone. "Block" is so nineties. It's all about the bucket. Buckety bucket bucket! The clincher, however, is one of those famed WSJ dot drawings that accompanies the text. For what we suspect is the first time in the newspaper's history, it depicts — we'll let the caption speak for itself. Business Types Get a New Kick Out of the 'Bucket' [WSJ]

It'll Always Be Brian Williams's Show

MEDIA • NBC to fire Nightly News exec producer John Reiss. But is it for ratings, or does Reiss not get along with anchor Brian Williams? [NYT and LAT] • Tunku Varadarajan moves from an editorial-page writer to an assistant managing editor at the Wall Street Journal, only the third time in 50 years someone has jumped that divide. [NYO] • Bellevue Hospital starts its own imprint; wannabe Ken Keseys hope for literary success. [NYT]

Watered-Down Starbucks? Say It Ain't So!

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There was a report in Saturday's Wall Street Journal — we know; how could we not have read it then? — that Starbucks chairman Howard Schulz is growing dissatisfied with the "watering down" of his brand, and it contained a shocker: He apparently fears that his chain has become "commodified." (Um, yeah? We always assumed that was the point.) In a February 14 e-mail, unsurprisingly sporting the subject line "The Commoditization of the Starbucks Experience," the beleaguered Schulz lamented the loss of the "romance and theatre" of a visit to one of his stores, claiming that baristas no longer know customers' favorite drinks or pull espressos by hand, and that a change in coffee packaging had caused the "loss of aroma — perhaps the most powerful non-verbal signal we had in our stores." Some people, wrote Schulz, even "call our stores sterile, cookie cutter." We'll ignore, for now, the fact that the chairman of one of the largest chains in the world took twenty years to realize that opening stores on pretty much every corner will knock out the intimacy of, well, any experience (or the fact that there has to be something wrong with a culture that looks for intimacy in its coffee-buying experience). We'll just say that we would love the bathrooms of any Starbucks on the isle of Manhattan to get a little more sterile and a little less powerfully non-verbal signaling. Starbucks Chairman Says Trouble May be Brewing [WSJ]

Sheryl Crow Will Save the Newspaper Industry!

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So there are all the standard problems newspapers are having with their readerships — that they're too old, that they're moving online, that they never call or write anymore — and at the Wall Street Journal there's a whole other set on top of that: Long seen as only the businessman's paper, the Journal has a readership that's particularly old and significantly male. How to bring younger, womaner readers to the paper? With a new ad campaign, of course. People like the New York Giants, Alice Waters, and Sheryl Crow will be depicted talking about why the Journal is important to them, according to a reporting today's Times. For example:
Ms. Crow, 44, for example, learned last year that she had breast cancer; the ad with her includes part of a Journal article about breast cancer.
You know, as opposed to all those old Journal ads featuring men talking about their prostate cancer. Newspaper Readers of a Different Kind [NYT]

CNBC Backs Anchor Maria Bartiromo

MEDIA • The story of the jet-fueled relationship between ex-Citigroup exec Todd Thompson and CNBC anchor Maria Bartiromo has turned from a snowball into an avalanche. [WSJ] • Newspapers eliminated about 1,500 positions in 2006, an improvement over 2005, when 2,500 scribes took a walk. [E&P] • Putting scratch-and-sniff ads in the Wall Street Journal actually makes us less inclined to read a newspaper. [AdAge]

Parents and Loss: ‘WSJ’ Examines Allowance

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There's a piece in today's Wall Street Journal about the difficulty of budgeting kids' allowances in the age of a cashless society, and it's unsurprising to learn that the ease of iTunes-esque online shopping has driven some parents to prepaid debit cards and Excel spreadsheets to prevent their children from bankrupting the family with RuneScape. (Actually, wait, it does surprise us a little. Do earbuds prevent kids from hearing "Go outside and play"?) More interesting is the accompanying charticle, which has revealing info on the allowance-giving habits of some notable New Yorkers. To wit: The toy-flush CEO of FAO Schwarz hasn't gotten around to setting an allowance for his daughter, the kids of Pitney Bowes CEO Michael J. Critelli earn "market price" for those chores they choose to do, and Charles Schumer's offspring receive an "undisclosed bi-weekly sum." Bloomberg's predilection for massive "donations" to younguns? Unconfirmed. Allowance 2.0 [WSJ]

On Day Two, the ‘Journal’ Changes

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We woke up this morning to find the sun still rising in the east, hammering and sawing still coming from the never-ending construction project across the street, and a bank-account balance still insufficiently high to allow us to simply not show up at work. Day Two had dawned in New York, and everything was distressingly the same. But wait! There was one difference: The Wall Street Journal had shrunk. The new paper is six inches narrower than it used to be, and one is tempted to spin this into a metaphor about the first business (if not trading) day on which the Sheriff of Wall Street rules in Albany. But no. It's true that the businessman's paper of record feels appreciably less magisterial today, but, of course, it's not Eliot's doing: Chalk it up to belt-tightening cutbacks in the ever-struggling newspaper business. Even the Times — the paper of record for, well, Spitzer types — is scheduled to soon get 10 percent smaller, too. Meantime, we're still trying to decide: Is the new, tiny Journal sort of puny or sort of cute? We might have to pick C, all of the above. Embracing Change to Build on a Tradition of Excellence [WSJ]

Bad Santa at the Office Party: Is Nothing Sacred?

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So there's this guy at your company Christmas party who keeps putting his hand up your skirt and breathing scotch in your face, but he's not Christopher Hitchens. WTF? Today's Wall Street Journal is on it, tracking the emotionally bankrupt phenom of the Bad Santa:
In 2002, Ms. Donahue began offering a Bad Santa for singing telegrams and party visits. ...Her Bad Santa, whose services start at $110 for 15 minutes, sings Christmas carols with unprintable lyrics, breaks down in tears or perhaps throws gifts across the room.
Because it's The Wall Street Journal, there's a whole "wintersolsticblahblahblahiconimageblahblah" section on the history of Santa the intern probably worked on all week, establishing that men getting drunk and feeling people up at Christmas parties may well be an homage to the Pennsylvania Dutch character of "Pelz Nicholas," rather than, you know, men pretty much using any opportunity to get drunk and feel women up. There's even the inevitable party pooper:
The Santa her company had hired sat on guests' laps, flipped candy across tables and made lewd comments to some of the women. "He was a little obnoxious," said Ms. Requiro, a company director. "I didn't really even want to be near him, because it was uncomfortable. I didn't eat my candy."
You didn't like your candy? You probably cried when he put you on his lap, too. You Better Watch Out [WSJ]

Is the ‘Wall Street Journal’ Forsaking Canada?

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A memo from Dow Jones Newswires — the breaking-news service that's a corporate sibling to the Wall Street Journal — crossed our in-box yesterday afternoon, and it had a very curious first sentence:
The Wall Street Journal's decision to exit Canada and eliminate four editorial positions has understandably raised questions with Newswires' staffers about our intentions in Canada.
The Journal's decision to exit Canada? The newspaper is retreating from our neighbor to the north? We know Ottawa isn't exactly a hotbed of market-moving business news, but, still, it seems a bit strange. Have conditions on the ground there gotten so difficult it's unsafe to ask reporters to stay? Has the paper's aggressive reporting on, say, ice-hockey fights so upset the government its reporters are no longer welcome? Or is the paper just bored? Well, none of the above. "The Journal is laying off its small number (four full-time, two part-time) of direct staffers in Canada," spokesman Robert Christie explained when we asked. "Instead, we will cover Canadian companies with the beat reporters in the U.S. who cover the relevant industries … We will cover Canadian international affairs, politics, and economics with a combination of DJ Newswires, which will retain twenty or so staffers in Canada, and Journal reporters in Chicago, New York, and Washington." Phew.