Wall Street Journal editorial staffers sent a letter to the paper’s new publisher Monday, demanding a clearer distinction between digital news and opinion content.
Over 280 employees signed the letter addressed to new Publisher Almar Latour, according to the Journal, which reported on the letter itself. They objected to a lack of clearer separation between Paul Gigot’s opinion section and the news section, overseen by Editor in Chief Matt Murray, who was also copied on the letter. Most readers, they argued, don’t realize the two are very different.
Proposals to fix the issues identified by the staffers include more prominent labeling on pieces to identify whether they are news or opinion. The letter also suggested taking opinion pieces out of the the “Most Popular Articles” and “Recommended Videos” sections on the website, then creating a separate “Most Popular in Opinion” section.
“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,” it said, citing a recent essay by Vice President Mike Pence about coronavirus as an example of something published “without checking government figures.”
Another opinion piece, titled “The Myth of Systemic Police Racism,” was offered as an example of one which “selectively presented facts and drew an erroneous conclusion from the underlying data.”
“WSJ journalists should not be reprimanded for writing about errors published in Opinion, whether we make those observations in our articles, on social media, or elsewhere,” added the signees.