More than 280 journalists at The Wall Street Journal and parent company Dow Jones have a difference on opinion.
In a letter sent to Dow Jones CEO Almar Latour, the editors, reporters and others protested what they termed the spread of “misinformation” in the WSJ opinion section.
The WSJ dustup comes just weeks after a similar uprising at the New York Times over an opinion piece by Republican Sen. Tom Cotton, which called for federal troops to stop nationwide protests. The fallout after it ran saw Opinion Editor James Bennet resign, followed by columnist Bari Weiss, who condemned the paper’s “Illiberal environment.”
At the WSJ, the employee letter called for a clearer firewall between the news and opinion divisions.
“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 letter states. “Many readers already cannot tell the difference between reporting and Opinion. And from those who know of the divide, reporters nonetheless face questions about the Journal’s accuracy and fairness because of errors published in opinion.”
The employee letter cited a column by Vice President Mike Pence that claimed panic over a second wave of the coronavirus was “overblown.” The employees claimed the piece contained several errors when it was first published and said Opinion editors published it without fact-checking Pence’s claims against government figures. Opinion later issued a correction.
Also cited was a column titled The Myth of Systematic Police Racism by conservative commentator Heather Mac Donald. The employee letter claimed the column “selectively presented facts and drew an erroneous conclusion from the underlying data.”
The letter concluded by proposing a set of changes, including labeling editorials and columns more prominently on the website and mobile apps.
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