Murdoch’s WSJ and The New York Times: A Look at Initial Front Page Differences

A comparison of front-page news coverage in The Wall Street Journal, since Rupert Murdoch bought Dow Jones, and The New York Times provides some early hints of how the Journal may be changing after its initial three months under Murdoch.

But there is nothing in these early straws in the wind to hearten those who hoped Murdoch’s serious concerns over damaging climate change might be reflected on the Journal‘s news pages. Not so far at least, and certainly no sign of a softening of the Journal‘s famous, or infamous, editorial page hostility to the issue.

Mark Jurkowitz, of the Project for Excellence in Journalism, looked at every other weekday coverage of the Journal in the first three months after Murdoch’s News Corp. took over Dow Jones, publisher of the Journal. He wrote that the new Journal “has clearly shifted focus, de-emphasizing business coverage that was the franchise,” while placing much more emphasis on domestic politics and devoting more attention to international news. He said the paper’s front-page coverage of the presidential primaries more than tripled during the first three months under Murdoch, from 5 to 18 percent of the front-page news hole.

The front-page gains in foreign news, elections/politics, government, and domestic terrorism came at the expense of front-page coverage of business and of health/medicine, based on Jurkowtiz’s study.

Front-page coverage of environment fell from 3.1 percent of the news hole in the three months prior to the buy-out to 1 percent in the three months immediately afterward, and coverage of science and technology during that same period fell from 1.9 to 1.1 percent of the front-page news hole.

Competing fiercely against The New York Times and adopting a broader approach to its news coverage, the Journal now is devoting nearly one-fifth of its front page to politics, compared with the Times‘ 27 percent during the same period.

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