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:: A constitutional law blog by Scalia/Thomas fan David M. Wagner, M.A., J.D., Research Fellow, National Legal Foundation, and Teacher, Veritas Preparatory Academy. Opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not reflect those of the NLF or Veritas. :: bloghome | E-mail me ::

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    :: Wednesday, June 06, 2007 ::
    Festive day on the Wall Street Journal editorial page!

    First, the lead editorial traces (in light of a possible Murdoch takeover) the admirable history of the Journal's independent "free men and free markets" editorial page. Sort of thing that makes me remember with fondness my own days as a cub editorial writer (for a different paper). I love teaching law, and I worked hard to get here; but if I were ever to stop, I could happily imagine being an editorial page editor, or even just senior editorial writer. I'll tell you this: the space pressure in editorial writing (and in blogging) makes for much better writing than the bloated, sycophantic genre known as law-review writing.

    Then, Holman Jenkins Jr. has a piece likewise inspired by MOAS (Murdoch-originated angst syndrome). Main point: entrepreneurs who make their money primarily in the news business make the best newspaper owners. In illustrating this point, Jenkins spots the particular virtues of both the Murdoch-owned (but Alexander Hamilton-founded) New York Post and the Graham-family-owned Washington Post:
    What makes the New York Post such a delight is partly the entertaining suspicion (most of the time probably unwarranted) that hidden agendas and childish rivalries are behind the decision to bash this muckety-muck and spare that. Not for nothing is the Post the favorite read of New York's catty media, social and business elite....
    As for the Washington Post:
    ...[I]t's an exceptionally brainy newspaper.

    Intelligence as a quality is hit or miss in most newspaper writing and editing. At the [Washington] Post, they seem to have instituitionalized it. You rarely find the collapses of critical judgment that seem to be routine at other papers when, say, a trial lawyer appears claiming evidence of racism in the auto dealership industry or at an oil company.

    Absent too are the excesses of billboard journalism -- the habit of editors casually intruding a noisy paragraph that oversells and distorts the story below, leaving an unsatisfying jumble of facts that don't live up to the assertions at the top.

    We don't love everything in the Post or all its reporters, and it has certainly benefited from conservative competition from the Washington Times....
    Amen to that. The Washington Times, which of course has issues of its own, will probably never overtake the Post -- but it long ago established itself as what Washingtonians call a "necessary second paper." The capital's new giveaway tabloids are also a breath of fresh air; it's a scandal for Washington to be a one-paper town, as it was from the demise of the Star in 1980 to the birth of the Times in '82. Jenkins continues, re the competition-improved Post:
    ...[T]he Post's editorial page has become remarkably more sensible in recent years.... The company itself is principally in the news business....
    Do WSJ reporters fear that Murdoch will insist (as he should) on tighter writing? Says Jenkins:
    He's not the only one. Washington Post Executive Editor Len Downie has instructed his crew to write shorter too -- and the Post already strikes me as a very well-written paper: News stories are rounded, complete but not overwritten. They also have a semblance of being written by somebody with a living mind, not just re-executing the media's general template on a given news event....
    And last but not least, Brian M. Carney writes about the differences between American and European approaches to global warming.

    :: David M. Wagner 9:44 PM [+] ::

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