The Wall Street Journal hasn’t won a Pulitzer Prize for its news reporting since 2007. It wasn’t even nominated this year. And a new chart from the Columbia Journalism Review may highlight a reason why.
Since News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch bought the United States’ largest newspaper by circulation six years ago, there has been a steady decline in the long-form journalism that once distinguished the business world’s paper of record.
CJR isn’t the first to notice this. Back in 2011, amid the calamity of News Corp.’s phone-hacking scandal in the U.K., New York Times op-ed columnist Joe Nocera declared the “Fox-ification” of the paper, noting that Murdoch’s Journal was marked by “shorter articles, less depth, an increased emphasis on politics and, weirdly, sometimes surprisingly unsophisticated coverage of business.”
While some of his criticism seems unwarranted — and likely fueled by the chaotic speed with which more and more phone-hacking accusations splashed onto front pages across the English speaking work — the “shorter articles, less depth” argument seems to hold true.
The Journal defended itself with this public statement after CJR‘s Dean Starkman published the chart:
The number of words in an article has never been the barometer by which the quality of a publication or its value to readers should be measured. Every article is reported with unique facts and anecdotes that are needed to best tell the story. We consider those factors, while respecting our readers’ busy lives, when determining the length of an article. Our very strong circulation numbers suggest that readers think we’re doing a good job.