Joe Nocera of the New York Times is one of the best journalists writing today. The fact that he is a business reporter-- his beat is Wall Street, not wars or other hard news-- only shines up his luster.
He's got an amazing way of absolutely decimating a subject without making it feel like a hack job. Here's him on the Bancroft family, owners of the Wall Street Journal, and their sycophants:
In 1975, however, a former Journal foreign correspondent, Warren Phillips, became the chief executive; his protégé, and eventual successor, was a Pulitzer Prize winner, Peter Kann, who ran Dow Jones from 1991 until the beginning of 2006. It is not an overstatement to describe their combined tenures as one giant disaster.
And then there was the biggest debacle of all, Dow Jones’s purchase in the late 1980s of a financial data company called Telerate, for $1.6 billion. The Telerate acquisition was supposed to be Dow Jones’s way of becoming a more broadly based financial information company. But Mr. Kann never understood the business and put the wrong people in charge of it. And every year, it slipped further behind Bloomberg, whose technology was vastly superior.
He also does some inside baseball in the column by chiding people for not returning his calls.
On Thursday, I did get Mr. Phillips on the phone. “If they are as determined in their support of The Journal’s independence as they have been in the past, then I think the paper is in good hands,” he said.
Would that it were so. But it’s not. “We had to destroy the village in order to save it,” was the famous phrase that came out of the Vietnam War. With the path they’ve been on, the Bancroft family seems intent on destroying Dow Jones in order to save it.
All hail Joe Nocera.