Wild News Day For Media Watchers

And how was your day? If you’re a media critic or reporter, it was anything but slow.

Starting last night when "Time Reporters" broke the news that Wall Street Journal managing editor Marcus Brauchli would be leaving the paper followed closely by The Wall Street Journal‘s Merissa Marr reporting Sam Zell’s Tribune Co. was "closing in on an agreement to sell its Long Island newspaper Newsday" to her paper’s parent company, News Corp., this was a day of constant scoops and fast (sometimes loose) seat-of-the-pants analysis.

Some highlights:

Portfolio‘s Jeff Bercovici brought Free Press’ Antitrust concerns to the forefront of the discussion early in the day and then filed a longer appraisal Brauchli’s departure, quoting one reporter as saying the departing editor "seemed to be doing everything Murdoch wanted—shorter stories, broadening the coverage. It’s hard to think he could’ve jumped much higher."

Over at Gawker, owner/acting managing editor Nick Denton offered a nuanced look at Murdoch’s annus mirabilis, claiming there are three reasons the media mogul has been on a tear of late: "newspaper publishing economics; the broader synergies available to a media group with heightened political influence; and mortality." (No mention, however, of MySpace, which The Sydney Morning Herald summed up this way: MySpace toxic for News Corp. Ditto, Yahoo, which according to Reuters, is still on Mr. Murdoch’s watch list as a possible co-acquisition with Microsoft.)

The Times Sewell Chan offers some info on The Post‘s shrinking paper size, on The Lede blog, tying the change to consolidation of "certain operations, like printing and distribution" and quoting newspaper analyst Rick Edmonds speculating, "It sounds as if this change would more easily allow printing both newspapers on the same businesses." Also in The Times, Richard Pérez-Peña has his own report on Mr. Brauchli’s departure, quoting Dow Jones & Company’s CEO Les Hinton saying, “Marcus is a brilliant journalist who has played a key role in the growth of The Wall Street Journal over the past 20 year… He deftly guided The Journal’s coverage of every major news event of the past decade and is leaving the paper in a position of great strength."

But the final word may be CJR’s Dean Starkman, who offers an overwrought (but perfectly Romenesko-ready) metaphor for Brauchli’s departure: "But Brauchli’s exit is a bit like the boy taking his finger out of the dike… With Brauchli gone, the Journal newsroom loses not just a topflight editor and bureau chief, a great Asia hand, and someone who was a real, live reporter, one who displayed sophistication (1), prescience (2) and conscience (3). It also loses a surprisingly savvy internal diplomat who, I thought, might just have been adroit enough to manage the inevitable tensions that would arise from the takeover, at least enough to preserve some of the Journal’s great journalistic heritage."