Blog Post

WSJ To Sever Ties With Breakingviews; Selling Its Minority Stake?

The Wall Street Journal, now part of News Corp (NYSE: NWS). is going to stop carrying the long running Breakingviews daily opinion columns in its paper, reports Guardian. WSJ Europe took an early stake of about 7 percent in the company Breakingviews, and started carrying the daily financial opinion columns about eight years ago in the European edition.

WSJ’s relationship with Breakingviews had always been a point of contention among WSJ journalists, as this was the only third-party content that the paper carried in its opinion pages. When Rupert Murdoch came in, he reportedly didn’t like the arrangement either. Word is that he wants to build up an inhouse rival to Financial Times’ influential Lex column, and as part of that, he just hired away Thorold Baker and Liam Denning, two columnists for Lex. They will beef up WSJ’s Heard on the Street writing team, and develop that as a competitor to Lex. Meanwhile, FT has hired John Paul Rathbone, deputy head of, to become deputy editor of Lex, reports Portfolio.

Hugo Dixon, the former Lex column editor and founder off, told Guardian that the column supposed to run till end of 2009 but the WSJ wanted to end the arrangement earlier. Remains to be seen what will happen to WSJ’s stake in the company, but he said that WSJ has indicated it would like to sell off the stake.

Meanwhile, these moves may affect how WSJ and FT build up their opinion sites/sections online, one going for wider distribution online, and another opting to attach a premium and keep it behind a subscription wall. “The FT and the WSJ will now have directly competing financial-opinion columns – but the key difference between them is that while the WSJ’s column will land on 2 million desks each day, the FT’s will still be stuck behind those idiotic firewalls,” writes Felix Salmon on Portfolio in a separate post.