Friday, March 16, 2012

Is the Wall Street Journal Worth It Anymore?

Sometime over the next few months, my yearly digital subscription for the WSJ comes due.  And, once again, I'm faced with this question:

Is it worth it anymore?

When Murdoch was looking to buy the journal, I wrote a column at the Huffington Post, titled, "Please don't sell the WSJ to Murdoch" when the deal was going through.  Of course, the then owners didn't listen to me (not that they would anyway).  But frankly, I was then very worried about a great newspaper with a pure market and economic perspective being taken over by the Fox News Machine with the requisite lowering of journalistic standards and content that would follow.

Over the last few years, the paper has changed. If I remember correctly, Murdoch wanted to make the WSJ more like an alternative to the NYT -- a paper with a broader focus but with a solid journalistic core.  Unfortunately, the Journal is writing less and less pure economic writing.  Their blogs are OK, but certainly not great.  And I read the paper less and less, instead going to the FT or Bloomberg first and staying there the longest.  I do have to admit that perhaps I should be reading Marketwatch instead, as that probably has more of the content that I really want. 

And frankly, the competition really is that much better.  The Financial Times stands out as the premiere paper in the world financial news arena.  They are hands down, clearly, the best.  And their blogs are AWESOME -- I mean, they have great, insightful content about timely topics.  Then there is Bloomberg, which is also really good -- although I have to admit, I really don't like their website very much.  But they have great, broad economic coverage.  The WSJ comes in a distant (very distant) third to both the preceding sources.  Basically, by diversifying their coverage, the Journal has really gotten away from their core business -- writing insightful articles on economics, the markets and the economy.

At the same time, I've been reading the journal for over 20 years.  I have a tremendous nostalgia for the paper, because it used to be a very good source of pure economic information for the US.  And, if I drop the subscription, I can always pick it up again.

At the same time, I really miss the old journal.  It was a great paper.  While the editorial page was, well, nuts, I never read that.  The rest of section A was great, and the Market section (Section C) was wonderful.  Unfortunately, those days appear to be gone as Murdoch's influence is felt more and more.  And certainly, not for the better.