Media Blog

Unrest at the WSJ

The news side is unhappy with the editorial page:

“I’ve been here 16 years, and in my 16 years, this is something different,” political reporter Jackie Calmes said.
At a July 5 meeting in the Washington bureau, Ms. Calmes urged her fellow staffers to take action in response to the editorial. Currently, the staff is drafting a letter of protest to Mr. Steiger. “It could be one sentence: ‘We object,’” Ms. Calmes said. “It doesn’t have to go into chapter and verse. But I was just throwing it out there. I’m not instigating it. I’m not going to take the lead.” 

Neither is Mr. Steiger. A Dow Jones spokesperson said that the paper doesn’t comment on its reporting and editing decisions. In an e-mail, Mr. Steiger noted that the editorial had explicitly not speculated about whether or not the news operation would have held a story if the administration had asked it to. “That said, the edit page is free to comment on anything it wants to comment on,” Mr. Steiger wrote. “The news department is free to write about anything it considers newsworthy, which on rare occasion has included the activities of The Journal’s edit page. The edit pages expresses opinions. The news pages do not.”

That, apparently, is not enough for the news staff. They seem to want Steiger to issue some sort of public rebuke to editorial page editor Paul Gigot. But that would necessarily involve taking a position on whether the NYT was right to expose the program after the administration asked it not to — something Steiger has wisely decided it would not be prudent for him to do.
The newspapers are always telling us that there’s a wall between news and editorial. Why won’t that explanation suffice in this case?


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