Rupert Murdoch has always been fond of shorter articles in newspapers -- something Journal staffers accustomed to writing deep, investigative stories worried about when he bought the paper in 2007. The Journal hasn't completely abandoned long-form journalism in the years since, but there's clearly been a shift toward shorter articles, perhaps more in line with the Financial Times.
Expect that trend to continue. Journal editors are now urging reporters to produce more short articles for the paper, rather than focusing primarily on features.
National editor Jennifer Forsyth instructed colleagues this week to "please have your reporters who write primarily for usnews to please look for spot news, short sidebars and fun brites that could run in the 250 to 350 word range."
"Our bosses want the section to be chock full of news, not all longer features," Forsyth wrote in the memo, obtained by The Huffington Post. "This really shouldn't be hard. Most reporters can dash off a brief from their beats or areas of coverage fairly easily several times a week when they start thinking this way. Some enterprise blog items, for example, could be easily retooled for print."
"Please make sure you're talking with ALL your reporters who write mostly for usnews," she wrote. "This effort should be shared equitably. We need to make this happen--starting today."
Forsyth mentioned that a "more extensive note will be forthcoming."
UPDATE 11:29 am: A Journal spokeswoman responds:
"The length of a story has never been a testament to the quality of The Wall Street Journal. We remain the number one newspaper in the country. From long-form narratives to scoops such as the U.S. lawsuit against S&P to short inside stories, we consistently seek a variety of ways to engage and inform our readers."