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WSJ transforming journalism, taking it to a place that respects all voices 4/22/08

Posted by Steve Boriss in Opinion.
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The magnitude of this week’s changes to the opinion pages of Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal (WSJ) cannot be overstated. In their “Review & Outlook” section they speak of moving their Letters to the Editor page to the main editorial page in “hope this will encourage an even more spirited exchange of views with our readers, who have never been shy about disagreeing with us or our contributors.” They also give words of welcome to a new weekly column by Thomas Frank, author of What’s the Matter with Kansas, who will “[add] a prominent left-of-center voice to the pages.” Sounds like they are going out of their way to show respect to those who do not necessarily share their views, doesn’t it?

This is a major departure from Modern Journalism, which tells its practitioners that they are providing “the truth” based on facts, leaving no room to respect alternative opinions. After all, if journalists are presenting the truth, those who disagree must be “wrong” — if not stupid, selfish, crazy, mean-spirited, unhinged, or downright evil. The NY Times is the “gold standard” of this genre. But, who would want to read a paper that does not respect their views? Based on the Times’ soft circulation numbers, the answer appears to be “fewer and fewer.” Perhaps Rupert Murdoch has been inspired by Aretha Franklin, and has concluded that all his readers are asking for is a little respect (just a little bit). (H/T: Garry Rains)

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