Monday, December 27, 2010

The Fall of The WSJ

When I was in college in the late 1980s, newspapers were still the predominate form of news transmission. I had a professor who told me to read the WSJ and NYT every day in order to stay informed. As he was my hero, I took his advice to heart and religiously read both every day. I would carry both papers with me wherever I went and would read them usually drinking a really bad cup of coffee and smoking a Marlboro (which I finally quit a few years ago).

Then a really funny thing happened after reading the WSJ for about 6-12 months; I started to understand the economy. I had taken a few economics classes by this time, and would eventually take more. But these were theoretical. The world of the WSJ was real and it showed how the markets interact with data. The more I read, the more I understood how things operate.

When Rupert Murdoch was in negotiations to purchase the WSJ, I wrote an article against the transaction (not that he would listen). But I was incredibly worried about the paper becoming more like Fox news than the WSJ of old. However, the deal went through a few years ago. Unfortunately, it has not been for the better.

Now when I read the journal, I find fewer fewer economic stories between more and more political stories. And the economic stories are more and more political; I find that I have to be extremely careful in reading the articles as they are more and more about blaming the left and promoting the right through economic analysis. And the market pages just aren't what they use to be either. While I think the WSJ has passed on the real market commentary to the page, it's a shame to see them get away from the really good commentary they use to have.

In short, the WSJ is losing its business edge. While I still read it, I find I read the Financial Times and Bloomberg first, then go to the Journal to see if I missed something. In short, for me it is becoming less and less relevant. And it is a shame, because it use to be so good.