Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.
--C.S. Lewis--

Monday, October 26, 2009

Why The Wall Street Journal?

The most recent circulation figures for the top 25 newspapers in the country are out, and they are tragic. Most papers are hemorrhaging subscribers. In fact, only one paper on the list managed to gain a bit. The Wall Street Journal. Now, as a good partisan conservative Republican, I'd like nothing more than to credit the good sense and innate conservatism of the American people, while laughing hysterically and yelling "You suck!"at the New York Times. But I have a funny feeling that the Journal's conservatism has little to do with its relative success.

I also think that the Journal is a far better quality paper than most. The writing is tighter, the research more thorough, and it contains a more diverse array of editorial and opinion writers. That doesn't seem to be the answer either though, because the Washington Post, America's other great newspaper, seems to be losing circulation at a healthy clip despite equivalent quality. And of course, the New York Times, which I wouldn't use to line the bottom of a canary's cage, seems to be in about the same state as the Post.

So, my theory is this. The Wall Street Journal, moreso than the other major papers, is seen as a national paper. Despite its name, people have never thought of it as being a "New York" paper. That makes it ideal to replace your local daily when it either folds, or cuts its newsroom staff back so drastically that it no longer produces a paper capable of holding your interest. To survive, I think the Post, the Times, and other papers capable of transitioning, will have to find ways to become more cosmopolitan and scavenge the dwindling audiences of the dying locals.