WSJ editor needs to read my How To Get The Facts of Life

Source: Wall Street Journal Editor Admonishes Reporters Over Trump Coverage – The New York Times

It’s a pretty astounding story. Not because the editor of the Wall Street Journal complained to his journalists that too much criticism of Trump was getting into their stories about him.

Since Murdoch bought the WSJ, it’s had ambitions (pretensions?) to be considered a great newspaper on a level with the Times and the Washington Post, rather than merely a great financial journal, with some news stuff on the side. And a pluperfectly rotten editorial page policy of right wing claptrap.

No, what’s astounding isn’t this editor’s complaints. It’s that the entire editorial kvetch to Journal writers got out, and became a story in the Times. (Analysis: you’ve got a lot of pissed off journalists who do not like being told how to write and are glad to be able to leak your emails to a newspaper that does not try to control the way its writers deal with Trump.)

…[Greg] Baker, in a series of blunt late-night emails, criticized his staff over their coverage of Mr. Trump’s Tuesday rally in Phoenix, describing their reporting as overly opinionated.

“Sorry. This is commentary dressed up as news reporting,” Mr. Baker wrote at 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday morning to a group of Journal reporters and editors, in response to a draft of the rally article that was intended for the newspaper’s final edition.

He added in a follow-up, “Could we please just stick to reporting what he said rather than packaging it in exegesis and selective criticism?”

Here’s what the Times printed about what Baker considered “overly opinionated” language in the articles about Trump–which was cut from the final article. (Hang on, you’re going to yell, “HUH?” very loudly):

The draft, in its lead paragraph, described the Charlottesville, Va., protests as “reshaping” Mr. Trump’s presidency. That mention was removed.

The draft also described Mr. Trump’s Phoenix speech as “an off-script return to campaign form,” in which the president “pivoted away from remarks a day earlier in which he had solemnly called for unity.” That language does not appear in the article’s final version.

I invite Mr. Baker to look at my little primer addressed to newspaper readers, sharing with them how I learned to read newspapers. A very short excerpt:

As I learned in high school, every news medium displays some political lean, but facts themselves do not. It’s the strength of great news writing to thrill, move or anger us with stories well told. Yes, a journalist’s personal impressions of an event are conveyed by choice of words, but no matter how provocative the language, the facts in those stories are just…facts.

Note to Mr. Baker: we who read newspapers know how to gather the facts in articles and also know how to absorb and evaluate what you call “exegesis and selective criticism[]” but I call exciting and compelling journalism. Kill that in your paper, you’re killing any chance you have to rise about your ownership and not be lumped in with the Fox News Trump propaganda network and the New York Post.


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