Former FT US Editor Returns To 6th Ave At Helm Of WSJ
The Wall Street Journal is moving to News Corp's HQ in midtown Manhattan on 1211 Sixth Avenue, just a stone's throw from the Financial Time's US HQ on 1330 Sixth Ave. This is a long circuitous journey back to the heart of the US media capital for Robert Thomson, the former head of FT US and recently appointed managing editor of the WSJ.
Robert Thomson is a long-time friend of Rupert Murdoch, both are Australian, and both have newspaper ink in their veins. Rupert Murdoch has proved himself as the savviest media tycoon on the planet, and Mr Thomson is not too shabby himself.
I worked with Mr Thomson when he was editor of the US FT, when he presided over the launch of the US version of the FT in 1999. Those were thrilling and heady times to be a journalist, the FT was pouring more than $100m into the launch, and we were taking on the Wall Street Journal in it's own backyard.
Mr Thomson had assembled a fantastic team of talented journalists and editors and we were all raring to go. We were the underdogs against the massive Dow Jones. And we were getting great stories the tough way--not with pre-briefings or stories handed on a plate--but scoops through hard-nosed journalism.
It was the best place to be bar none and I revelled in being part of the most exciting new media launch in decades. Visiting the US HQ for editorial meetings was always a high point, I would always return to San Francisco refreshed and recharged. And a lot of that was due to Mr Thomson's leadership and the people he recruited.
He could draw you into conversions and share things that he knew you would never repeat. That created strong loyalties. And it was part of a management style that helped create a great camaraderie within our editorial teams.
Mr Thomson's loyalty to the FT was shaken when one of his main rivals, Andrew Gowers, was appointed editor of the FT in 2001. In March 2002 Mr Thomson was recruited by Rupert Murdoch to run The Times - one of the world's oldest and most famous newspapers.
The Pink 'Un . . .
Most of the US watchers of the Rupert Murdoch takeover of Dow Jones and the Wall Street Journal have focused on the potential challenge facing the New York Times from a revamped WSJ. I would be less concerned about the Grey Lady and more concerned about the challenge to the "Pink 'Un."
Over the past six years Mr Thomson has delighted in hacking away at the FT, recruiting some of its best journalists. Now Mr Thomson will get a chance to do the same in the US, on the same street as the FT, and at the helm of its largest competitor.
The arch strategist of the FT's US success is now its arch rival. This will be interesting.
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