Thursday, June 14, 2012

Why I Dropped My WSJ Subscription for the Financial Times

A few months ago, I wrote a piece asking whether or not I should drop my WSJ subscription in favor of the Financial Times.  Well, I did just that a few months ago and haven't missed the WSJ one bit.  Here are the reasons for the switch:

1.) A far more international orientation: the Financial Times is truly an international paper; it covers most regions very well.  Asian coverage is fabulous, BRIC/developing world coverage is top notch and (obviously) EU coverage is good as well.  The only real shortcoming is Latin America.  Basically, the world is now one giant inter-related system; you have to know what is happening in Europe, Australia and India and how that inter-relationship relates to the US.  The WSJ falls down on this connection in a pretty big way.  The paper is still very US centric.

2.) Much better blogs: Compare Alphaville and Money Supply to the WSJ's Market beat or Real Time economics.  There is no comparison.  The WSJ's blogs are like blogging 101; they lack a fair amount of depth.  They report data, make some 30,000 view comments and then move one.  Frankly, it's far more effective ro simply read the data yourself.  Compare that to the FT blogs which provide some excellent in-depth research on meaty topics.   The posts are longer and filled with far more nuance.  The different is night and day.

3.)  A great writing style.  The FT has shorter stories, but there is no fluff; once the writers have said their peace, they stop writing.  Considering the early hour when I usually read it, that helps. 

4.) When was the last time the WSJ did a really good piece on anything?  The high impact stories are getting fewer and farther between.  The WSJ used to provide great well-researched economic articles on topics (in fact, it used to be  a daily occurrence, running down the right or left side of the front page).  They've just lost that edge.  I think a big problem there is the attempt to make the WSJ a competitor with the NYT.  The WSJ used to be the premier business paper; that's why you bought it.  Now they're trying to stretch out into other areas, and unfortunately diluting the brand in a bad way.

5.) The lack of an "ick" factor.  The ongoing investigations in the UK indicate there are serious management problems that have obviously filtered down throughout the Murdoch media group.  Put another way, if the head is that corrupt, I don't see how that doesn't trickle down

6.) Whatever isn't covered in the FT is covered by Bloomberg.

It's sad that an icon of American journalism has started to lose its position.  However, I do think its happened and don't see how it will not get worse going forward.  I still think I'll read some stories from time to time, but nowhere like I used to.