Steiger, Former 'WSJ' Editor, Overseeing Murdoch Coverage

By: Joe Strupp Paul Steiger may no longer be the top editor of The Wall Street Journal, having given up the managing editor title to new newsroom honcho Marcus Brauchli. But he is still in charge of what may be the paper's most important coverage these days -- the potential sale of Dow Jones to Rupert Murdoch's News Corp.

"It is a big story with lots of interesting issues and players and it has been a challenge, but I think we have done a good job," said Steiger, 64, who stepped down from the managing editor post he held since 1991 on May 15. "Covering yourself is always a challenge, but so far I think my colleagues have risen to it admirably."

Steiger, who took the post of editor at large when he handed over the reigns to Brauchli, said the new editor asked him to continue overseeing the coverage of a possible sale to Murdoch so he could reorganize newsroom management in a structure that was announced today. "Marcus just asked me to do it so he could focus on putting his new team together," Steiger said. "If it continues on for more than a few weeks, I will turn that over to someone else and do individual projects on my own."

He said about nine reporters have been working on different elements of the potential sale story, reporting to a handful of editors under him. "They report to me for this, but to others for their other tasks," Steiger said of the editors involved. He said Brauchli's decision to hand over coverage of the story to him was not motivated by any effort to avoid a conflict or speculation about slanted coverage.

"It is really about division of labor," he said. "He wanted to put his structure in place and it was one thing he could delegate."

Steiger declined to speculate on what a Murdoch purchase would mean to the paper, or how likely it is to happen. (The union at the paper is predicting job cuts if it happens.) He also did not want to give an opinion on the new management structure.

Brauchli could not immediately be reached for comment Wednesday.

Steiger is required by Dow Jones policy to retire at the end of the year in which he turns 65, which will occur in August. He plans to leave Dow Jones at the end of December. He recently stepped down as chair of the Pulitzer Prize board in April as well. "Part of the deal was that I would have the second half of the year to see what I could do next," Steiger said about his retirement agreement. "I have started setting up conversations to see about the next stage in my life."

The veteran editor, whose 16 years as top editor at the Journal is rivaled only by that of Leonard Downie Jr. of The Washington Post among top circulation dailies, said he plans to go on to another journalism-related post, but would not offer specifics about his options.

"There are lots of things that have been suggested to me, there are a couple I am focusing on, but I am keeping an open mind," said the married father of four. "I don't want to limit myself, but there have been some exciting ideas related to journalism in one way or another, some in the non-profit sector, some in education, some in improving the public's understanding of economics."


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