WSJ editor Ellen Foley in a column on Christmas Day wrote one of her occasional columns about the state of her paper. Among the announced changes was the decision to drop the New York Times News Service from the paper for reasons of cost. The service costs, in Foley's words, tens of thousands of dollars each year and often gets stories to the Journal too late to use in all editions.
The immediate upshot of this is that Journal readers will lose the NYT line-up of columnists. Maureen Dowd? Gone. David Brooks? History. Thomas Friedman or Frank Rich? Yesterday's news. We'll live out here in the heartland, of course. The Janesville Gazette has both Molly Ivins and Bill O'Reilly with the added benefit of a letter col that pits the readers of one against the other.
What's troubling is the decision by the Journal to make my morning paper a little less relevant by cutting itself off from one of the largest news gathering services in the world. Nevermind the op-ed, the NYT staff gets to places and stories that other organizations simply cannot. How will the Wisconsin State Journal take up the slack left by the departure of the NYT service? They probably won't. The change in columnists will be masked by the addition of others of several political stripes and the news will just make do without one of the most pervasive news-gathering teams ever assembled.
At least we'll have our thrice weekly Poker column. That's not been put in the line of cost-cutting fire.