Wall Street Journal Names New Editor

From a New York Times story by Katie Robertson, Edmund Lee, and Benjamin Mullin headlined “Wall Street Journal Names a New Editor”:

The Wall Street Journal named a new top editor on Monday, saying it would hand control of the newsroom to Emma Tucker, a longtime editor for Rupert Murdoch-owned newspapers in Britain. She replaces Matt Murray, who has led the paper for the past four years, occasionally clashing with the paper’s publisher.

The Journal said Mr. Murray would take on a new role, reporting to Robert Thomson, the chief executive of Mr. Murdoch’s News Corp, The Journal’s parent company. Ms. Tucker starts on Feb. 1, with Mr. Murray assisting with the transition through the beginning of March.

“Matt is a superb journalist and leader who has overseen a peerless editorial team that fashioned success for The Journal during an era of extreme vulnerability for media companies and journalism,” Mr. Thomson said in a statement.

By selecting Ms. Tucker, Mr. Murdoch put in the top job an editor from outside the paper with close ties to his wider media empire. He has made a similar move multiple times since buying the paper more than a decade ago, the exception being Mr. Murray, who had spent decades at The Journal.

The announcement comes as a special committee at News Corp is weighing a possible merger with Fox Corporation, the media company founded by Mr. Murdoch. The deal, if it happens, would unite under one corporate roof Fox News, with its conservative prime-time programming, with The Wall Street Journal, a move that has set off some unease in The Journal’s newsroom.

Ms. Tucker, 56, who has been the editor of The Sunday Times in London, will be the first woman to run The Journal’s newsroom. She has been backed by Mr. Thomson and Rebekah Brooks, the head of News Corp’s British arm, according to four people familiar with the internal workings of the company who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Ms. Tucker worked with Mr. Thomson many years ago at The Financial Times, where she started as a reporter, before working as a foreign correspondent and rising to become editor of FT Weekend. In 2007, she joined The Times of London, which is owned by News Corp, and became its deputy editor in 2013. In January 2020, she became editor of The Sunday Times, a sister paper to The Times of London, which operates separately with its own newsroom.

When she was promoted to editor of The Sunday Times, Mr. Thomson described her as “a brilliant journalist” who was “digitally savvy and principled.”

Ms. Tucker has pushed The Sunday Times to focus on its digital operation and broaden its audience during her tenure, which has included a series of scoops on financial dealings of the royal family. This year, The Sunday Times reported that King Charles accepted a suitcase containing more than $1 million in cash from Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani, a Qatari politician.

Mr. Murray, 56, who has worked at The Journal for nearly 30 years, took over in June 2018 after rising unrest in the newsroom. His predecessor was Gerard Baker, a Briton who was also at The Financial Times and The Times of London before joining The Journal. Mr. Baker had faced complaints in the newsroom, including accusations by some reporters of going easy on then-President Donald J. Trump.

Staff morale largely improved under Mr. Murray, whose tenure included the award-winning 2021 Facebook Files series, based on a cache of internal documents, and other impactful work. But he has disagreed with The Journal’s publisher, Almar Latour, over the paper’s direction and how to grow its subscriber base.

Reports of Ms. Tucker’s possible move to The Journal started circulating months ago in the British media, as well last month in Semafor, a start-up news site. The company had been looking to replace the editor for at least a year, according to four people with knowledge of their relationship.

Mr. Murray frustrated some executives with his skepticism over the Hunter Biden laptop story in 2020, according to two people with knowledge of internal discussions. (The New York Post, another News Corp publication, heavily promoted the story.)

Mr. Murdoch has also raised concerns that the newsroom was becoming less objective, according to the executives. After the killing of George Floyd, the newsroom petitioned leadership to make fundamental changes to how the paper had covered race and policing.

That caught Mr. Murdoch’s attention, the people said. In remarks for an event in early 2021, the mogul condemned “woke orthodoxy” and “cancel culture” as movements that were stifling society. “This rigidly enforced conformity, aided and abetted by so-called social media, is a straitjacket on sensibility,” he said.

The Wall Street Journal is one of a handful of American newspapers that has weathered the decline of its print business by convincing readers to pay for digital news. The company said in November that The Wall Street Journal had 3.15 million digital-only subscribers, a 13 percent increase compared with the same period last year.

In a note to the staff, Mr. Latour said Ms. Tucker would “build on that strong foundation.”

He added: “She will take over at a time of unprecedented volatility in the world on virtually every front — a time for The Journal to continue to double down on our core and on our unique role in society: delivering in-depth, insightful coverage of the business world and beyond.”

Katie Robertson is a Times media reporter. She previously worked as an editor and reporter at Bloomberg and News Corporation Australia.

Edmund Lee covers the media industry as it grapples with changes from Silicon Valley. Before joining The Times he was the managing editor at Vox Media’s Recode.

Benjamin Mullin is a media reporter for The Times, covering the major companies behind news and entertainment.

Also see the Washington Post story by Sarah Ellison headlined “Emma Tucker to replace Matt Murray as editor of the Wall Street Journal”:

The Wall Street Journal on Monday named Emma Tucker — a British journalist from the Sunday Times of London who is close with controlling shareholder Rupert Murdoch’s inner circle — as its new editor in chief, replacing Matt Murray, a Journal veteran who has led the paper for the past 4½ years.

Tucker, 56, will be the first woman to serve as top editor of the Journal in its 133-year history. News Corp, which oversees Murdoch’s publishing empire, said Murray will take on a new executive role at the company, reporting to chief executive Robert Thomson after assisting Tucker through a one-month transition beginning Feb. 1.

The move signals a reassertion of control by Murdoch, who bought the Journal in 2007 and quickly took editorial command of the publication. Since then, Murray has been the only top editor to rise through the ranks of the Journal; the others have been British editors brought over from other Murdoch titles.

During Murray’s tenure, the Journal won the Pulitzer Prize for national reporting in 2019 and produced significant series such as the “Facebook Files” and an investigation into the financial conflicts of interest among federal judges. Digital-only subscriptions to the Journal doubled, growing from approximately 1.6 million as of June 2018 to nearly 3.2 million as of the quarter ending in September.

His appointment to the top job in 2018, after nearly a quarter-century at the paper, quelled significant staff dissatisfaction with his predecessor Gerard Baker, a British journalist who among his various roles had previously written conservative commentary — describing himself as a “right-wing curmudgeon” — and who was perceived by many staffers as overly friendly toward President Donald Trump.

But Murray clashed occasionally with the paper’s publisher, Almar Latour, on the Journal’s long-term editorial strategy and efforts to increase subscribers, the New York Times reported last year.

On Monday, Thomson praised Murray as a “superb journalist and leader who has overseen a peerless editorial team that fashioned success for the Journal during an era of extreme vulnerability for media companies and journalism.”

Since January 2020, Tucker has served as editor of the Sunday Times, which she joined in 2007. She had previously worked alongside Thomson at the Financial Times, where he was an editor. Her candidacy for the Journal post also got a boost from Rebekah Brooks, who oversees News Corp.’s British arm, which includes the Times of London and the Sunday Times, as well as the Sun tabloid.

Under Tucker’s editorship, the Sunday Times was named Sunday Newspaper of the Year at the U.K. Press Awards and saw a more than 40 percent increase in digital subscriptions, to 450,000 by September 2022, up from 320,000 at the end of 2019.

Thomson praised Tucker as someone whose “global vision and experience will be particularly important at a time of immense international opportunity” for the Journal.

News Corp. said that the five-member Dow Jones Special Committee, created in 2007 to monitor editorial standards and ethics issues at the Wall Street Journal, had “unanimously approved” the appointments.

The move comes as the two companies under the Murdoch family’s control — News Corp. and Fox Corp. — are exploring a recombination. The entities split in 2012 after the phone-hacking scandal at Murdoch’s British tabloids.

Murdoch sold the vast majority of his empire to Disney in 2019 and named his oldest son, Lachlan, as CEO of Fox Corp.

Sarah Ellison is a staff writer based in New York for The Washington Post. Previously, she wrote for Vanity Fair, the Wall Street Journal and Newsweek, where she started as a news assistant in Paris.

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