Murdoch tells WSJ execs: “Shorter stories, more sport”

In his first meeting with Wall Street Journal bureau chiefs – who flew in from all around the world – Rupert Murdoch reiterated his plan to make feature stories in the Journal much shorter, especially those that start on page one.

His idea is to confine lengthy features to the weekend edition – when he believes subscribers have more time to read them.

Although not something he hasn’t said before, the ruling has created dismay among old-time Journal staffers. They regard the extra- long page one features as a WSJ tradition.

“There is a definite concern that the longer special pieces are going to be reigned in” one writer, Josh Prager, was quoted in this week’s New York Observer. He added that he liked writing them – and reading them.

The last feature that Prager wrote ran to 5,000 words – which is longer than most magazine features. He said that some writers were “very nervous” about the edict. Many regard being asked to write a “leder” – as these pieces are known – as the peak of their career.

One bureau chief who attended the meeting – which included cocktails and dinner at New York’s Marriott Hotel – cautioned that most reporters and editors were taking a dire interpretation of Murdoch’s remarks.

Another said that Murdoch had not said the idea was set in stone.

Also at the meeting Murdoch indicated he would like to see more sports coverage in the WSJ. Although not proposing a sports section in the paper he did think there was room to run sports results for busy businessmen who might be traveling.

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