Friday, April 16, 2010

Wasted Real Estate

I started reading the Wall Street Journal in the 1970s, when I first got into the business world. The long-running joke was that the loneliest job in the newspaper business was photo editor of the Wall Street Journal, because the paper rarely, and I mean almost never, ran a photograph.

As the WSJ evolved its page design (still an unhappy development for us diehard business-news junkies), that joke has been long retired. But would someone please tell me why photos of highway accidents in California and crime victims in Chicago, both of which appeared in the WSJ this week, are now taking up important real estate in this bible of business news?

I don't get it. There is so much of consequence happening in the corporate and financial markets that needs continuing, detailed examination — not the least of which are complex narratives like today's lodging of fraud charges by the government against Goldman Sachs. For the paper to squander even the slightest attention on grisly car wrecks and random street crime is ludicrous.

I don't suppose under Rupert Murdoch's proprietorship we can hope the photo editor's job is going to get a little more lonely again. But maybe the job could be more businesslike in its photo selection. Give us more of what board members need to add to their understanding of what's going on on Main Street and Wall Street.