Monday, August 3, 2009

How it's done

I can hardly believe I'm seeing a partial return to professional journalism in New York -- under the guidance of an Australian who formerly modernized the Times of London.

Today's Wall Street Journal lead was headed "Deutsch Bank Spy Scandal Widens" and that lead made the difference between me plunking down two bucks for the Journal rather than for the New York Times. It was a decent story, too, showing that the bank's statements in the matter were incomplete.

Several weeks ago the Journal led with a story about a cyberattack on the White House and various banks. Others gave the story ho-hum coverage, which first showed up a day earlier as a minor item reported locally in Washington. But the Journal picked up the ball and ran with it.

Of course, Murdoch's New York Post is also known for independent news judgment, but the paper is far too breezy and slipshod to make the most of its scoops. The Journal, on the other hand, retains a certain level of professionalism that helps it promote strong stories.

Many moons ago, this sort of news judgment was routine in New York but these days news has been degraded by many owners as trivial window-dressing.

Murdoch of course has much to account for in what he doesn't cover. Yet, Thomson in London managed to print some eye-opening material concerning machinations regarding Iraq and other intelligence scandals. Hopefully, we'll start seeing more of that sort of thing in the Journal.

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