Marcus Brauchli is stepping down as managing editor of The Wall Street Journal just four months after Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. bought the paper, the company announced Tuesday.
Brauchli, who had been in the post for just under a year, will stay on as a consultant to News Corp. A search for his replacement will begin immediately.
Brauchli didn’t go into detail about his decision to leave, telling the Journal’s staff in an e-mail that with the ownership change to News Corp. complete, “I have come to believe the new owners should have a managing editor of their choosing.”
Through a spokesman, Brauchli declined to be interviewed for this story.
Murdoch has been moving quickly to reposition the Journal as a competitor to the New York Times, adding more political coverage and reorganizing the paper.
On Monday the Journal added a third page to its opinion section, moved a daily column feature off the front of the Marketplace section and added an extra column to Marketplace’s front page.
Nearly all corporate news is now moving to the Marketplace section, with the front section focusing on breaking news, the economy, politics and opinion.
The Journal has made other changes in recent months, adjusting the look of its Web site, adding a regular sports page and ratcheting up plans for the launch of a glossy magazine called WSJ. later this year.
News Corp. announced Brauchli’s departure after a meeting of a special committee tasked with ensuring the Journal’s editorial independence and integrity.
Murdoch had agreed to set up that panel as a condition of buying the Journal’s parent company Dow Jones & Co. last year from the Bancroft family, some of whom expressed concerns about the Journal remaining independent under Murdoch.
Brauchli, whose name is pronounced BROCK’-lee, said in his letter that since taking control of the Journal in December Murdoch’s management team has “scrupulously” avoided any kind of imposition of business or political viewpoints on Journal coverage.
“I am confident that our journalistic integrity remains intact and that News Corp. is committed to a Journal that is vibrant, vital and pre-eminent in American journalism,” Brauchli said.
The oversight committee put out a separate statement later Tuesday saying they had questioned Brauchli about his decision and were told his departure was amicable and unrelated to any issue of integrity at the newspaper.
The panel must sign off an any removal or appointment of the Journal’s managing editor and certain other top editorial roles at Dow Jones.
Brauchli formally took the reins last May, shortly after News Corp.’s $5 billion bid to acquire Dow Jones & Co. became public.
Brauchli, 46, replaced Paul Steiger, who had led the paper since 1991. He reported to Robert Thomson, whom Murdoch named as publisher of Dow Jones with editorial oversight of the Journal, Dow Jones Newswires and Dow Jones’ other publications.
Thomson had formerly been editor of The Times of London, a News Corp. paper.