The editors of the Wall Street Journal have promised to defend free speech in their opinion section after some 280 staff members complained of the conservative tone of the paper’s editorial pages.
In a “Note to Readers” late Thursday, the Journal’s editorial board assured subscribers that the paper will not “wilt under cancel-culture pressure” brought to bear by progressives, underscoring its dissimilarity to the New York Times, which famously caved to just such pressure after publishing an op-ed by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR).
“It was probably inevitable that the wave of progressive cancel culture would arrive at the Journal, as it has at nearly every other cultural, business, academic and journalistic institution. But we are not the New York Times,” the editors write. “Most Journal reporters attempt to cover the news fairly and down the middle, and our opinion pages offer an alternative to the uniform progressive views that dominate nearly all of today’s media.”
The Journal editors also reassert their commitment to columns promoting “free people and free markets,” a perspective sorely lacking from woke mainstream media.
“As long as our proprietors allow us the privilege to do so, the opinion pages will continue to publish contributors who speak their minds within the tradition of vigorous, reasoned discourse,” they declare. “And these columns will continue to promote the principles of free people and free markets, which are more important than ever in what is a culture of growing progressive conformity and intolerance.”
The Note to Readers is first and foremost meant to reassure readers that the WSJ would not be following the trend of censoring free speech that offends certain fragile sensibilities. Secondarily, it was a response to the 280 staff members who attacked the Journal’s opinion page in a recent letter leaked to the public.
The signers of that letter “report to the News editors or other parts of the business, and the News and Opinion departments operate with separate staffs and editors,” the Note to Readers observes. “Both report to Publisher Almar Latour. This separation allows us to pursue stories and inform readers with independent judgment.”
The letter of complaint alleged a “lack of fact-checking and transparency” and an “apparent disregard for evidence” on the part of the opinion page, citing as one example a recent essay by Vice President Mike Pence about coronavirus infections.
The letter’s authors said the editors published Mr. Pence’s figures “without checking government figures” and noted that the piece, “There Isn’t a Coronavirus ‘Second Wave,’” was later corrected.
Almar Latour, chief executive of Dow Jones & Co. and publisher of the Journal, has publicly stood behind WSJ’s opinion pages and their editorial team.
“We cherish the unique contributions of our Pulitzer Prize-winning Opinion section to the Journal and to societal debate in the U.S. and beyond,” Mr. Latour said. “Our readership today is bigger than ever and our opinion and news teams are crucial to that success. We look forward to building on our continued and shared commitment to great journalism at The Wall Street Journal.”