UPDATED: Brauchli Officially Out as Editor of ‘WSJ’

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By: E&P Staff and Seth Sutel, The Associated Press

The top editor of The Wall Street Journal is stepping down after less than a year on the job and four months after the paper was taken over by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., according to a person familiar with the situation.

The reasons for Marcus Brauchli’s departure weren’t immediately clear, but Time magazine’s Web site, which first reported the news late Monday, said Brauchli had tried to find a “middle path” between the paper’s old guard and Murdoch’s new vision for the paper.

News Corp. offiicially announced the move this afternoon in a press release. It opens:

“Marcus Brauchli, Managing Editor of The Wall Street Journal and Les Hinton, CEO of Dow Jones & Company jointly announced today that Mr. Brauchli is stepping down from his position as Managing Editor of The Wall Street Journal and will become a consultant to News Corporation. The announcement was made after a meeting between the members of the Special Committee designed to protect the editorial integrity of the newspaper, Mr. Brauchli and representatives from Dow Jones and News Corporation.

“In his new role, Mr. Brauchli will provide guidance to senior management in a wide range of areas, from advising The Wall Street Journal to exploring the possibility of a business news channel for STAR-TV in Asia. Dow Jones will begin a search for Mr. Brauchli?s replacement immediately.

“‘Marcus is a brilliant journalist who has played a key role in the growth of The Wall Street Journal over the past 20 years,’ said Mr. Hinton. ‘He deftly guided the Journal?s coverage of every major news event of the past decade and is leaving the paper in a position of great strength.'”

“‘Following the change in ownership of Dow Jones and the Journal, I have concluded the time is right to consider new career possibilities,’ Mr. Brauchli said. ‘I revere the Journal and hold my colleagues here, both old and new, in the highest regard. There isn?t a better team in journalism, and I will greatly miss working with them on a daily basis.’

“‘Marcus has been a terrific leader throughout the transition process and I have great respect for him,’ said Rupert Murdoch, Chairman and Chief Executive of News Corporation. ‘I am pleased he has accepted this new role in News Corporation and believe his experience will be a great asset, especially in Asia — a region where we see significant growth potential and where he has particular expertise.’?

The special committee designed to protect the editorial integrity of the
newspaper will have oversight and approval over the hiring of a new managing editor, a News Corp. source told E&P this afternoon.

The special committee, created last year following the News Corp. purchase, includes: Louis Boccardi, former president and chief executive officer of the Associated Press; Thomas J. Bray, former reporter and bureau chief in The Wall Street Journal news department; Jack Fuller, retired president of the Tribune Publishing Co.; Nicholas Negroponte, cofounder the Media Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and Susan M. Phillips, dean of the George Washington University School of Business.

AP earlier reported as follows.

Robert Thomson, whom Murdoch named publisher of the Journal in December, may take over as interim managing editor, the Journal reported on its Web site, citing people familiar with the situation.

Wall Street Journal spokesman Robert Christie declined to comment, as did News Corp. spokeswoman Teri Everett.

Brauchli formally took the reins last May, shortly after News Corp.’s $5 billion bid to acquire the Journal’s parent company Dow Jones & Co. became public.

Murdoch succeeded in buying Dow Jones only after an extended campaign to win over the fractious Bancroft family, Dow Jones’ former controlling shareholders, some of whom expressed concerns about preserving the Journal’s editorial quality and independence.

News Corp. eventually agreed to create an editorial oversight board that would have to sign off on the appointment or removal of the managing editor or other top editorial roles.

Murdoch has said he wants to position the Journal as more of a direct competitor to The New York Times for readers and advertising dollars.

The paper has shown clear signs of evolving in the few months Murdoch has owned it, putting a greater emphasis on political news, adding a regular sports page, and reformatting the front page from five columns to six.

On Monday, the paper also announced changes to its opinion section including the addition of a third page to allow for more regular columnists and opinion articles. Former Journal publisher Gordon Crovitz’s column, which will deal with technology issues, debuted Monday.

Brauchli, 46, was named managing editor in April 2007 and formally assumed the role in May, replacing Paul Steiger, who led the paper since 1991.

Brauchli had been a foreign correspondent for most of his more than two decades at the paper. As deputy managing editor under Steiger, he oversaw the Journal’s 2005 redesign, which trimmed its width in a move to cut printing costs by $20 million a year.

The managing editor is the top news executive at the Journal, reporting to Thomson, who oversees all editorial operations at Dow Jones. Thomson had formerly been editor of Murdoch’s The Times of London.
Politico.com reports: “A Journal veteran, Brauchli’s been regarded as a newsroom favorite, and seen by many as a buffer between the editorial staff and Murdoch. But now that’s no longer the case. ‘This is a clear sign that it?s over–the Dow Jones culture is dead,’ said one Journal staffer.

“To remove the managing editor, Murdoch is expected to go through the editorial independence committee, established when he purchased the paper. However, if Brauchli indeed resigned, as sources say, Murdoch does not have to go before the committee in order to choose a replacement.

“It’s been speculated that Journal publisher Robert Thomson could be eased into the managing editor job. Thomson was previously editor of Murdoch’s London-based Times paper, and brought in as publisher in late 2007.”

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