On Friday, the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal issued a defiant response to the roughly 280 members or colleagues of the paper who demanded that its opinion pages, which have traditionally espoused a strong conservative perspective, bend to their will and make the divide clear between the newsroom, which was once described as more liberal than the New York Times, and the opinion pages.
The Journal’s editorial board fired back in an op-ed titled, “These pages won’t wilt under cancel-culture pressure.”
“It was probably inevitable that the wave of progressive cancel culture would arrive at the Journal, as it has at nearly every other cultural, business, academic and journalistic institution,” the board asserted. “But we are not the New York Times.”
The letter from the disgruntled employees stated, “Opinion’s lack of fact-checking and transparency, and its apparent disregard for evidence, undermine our readers’ trust and our ability to gain credibility with sources.”
The Journal reported of the letter that it “proposed more prominently labeling editorials and opinion columns on the website and mobile apps, including the line ‘The Wall Street Journal’s Opinion pages are independent of its newsroom.’ It also suggests removing opinion pieces from the ‘Most Popular Articles’ and ‘Recommended Videos’ lists on the website, and creating a separate ‘Most Popular in Opinion’ list.”
On June 23, a group identifying itself only as “members of the WSJ newsroom” published a letter to the editor in chief, Matt Murray, writing, “Reporters frequently meet resistance when trying to reflect the accounts and voices of workers, residents or customers, with some editors voicing heightened skepticism of those sources’ credibility compared with executives, government officials or other entities. We should apply the same healthy skepticism toward everyone we cover.”
The editorial board noted that it had received an “outpouring of support from readers after some 280 of our Wall Street Journal colleagues signed (and someone leaked) a letter to our publisher criticizing the opinion pages. But the support has often been mixed with concern that perhaps the letter will cause us to change our principles and content. On that point, reassurance is in order.”
The board continued, “In the spirit of collegiality, we won’t respond in kind to the letter signers. Their anxieties aren’t our responsibility in any case …Most Journal reporters attempt to cover the news fairly and down the middle, and our opinion pages offer an alternative to the uniform progressive views that dominate nearly all of today’s media.”
The board concluded, “As long as our proprietors allow us the privilege to do so, the opinion pages will continue to publish contributors who speak their minds within the tradition of vigorous, reasoned discourse. And these columns will continue to promote the principles of free people and free markets, which are more important than ever in what is a culture of growing progressive conformity and intolerance.”
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