1:36 pm Nov. 2, 2012
Alan Murray, deputy managing editor and online executive editor of The Wall Street Journal, is leaving the paper.
He announced the move on Twitter just as his new employer, the Pew Research Center, put out a statement on his hiring.
Pew is famous for its polling on everything from politics to "attitudes"; its present director, Andrew Kohut, "will stay on as Founding Director," according to Pew.
Murray was a leading contender, among watchers of Wall Street Journal parent company News Corp., to take over the top editor slot at the Journal if and when Robert Thomson, who has the post now, becomes the chief of the new publishing company News Corp. is spinning off. But the announcement today puts paid to that idea.
Reached by phone, Murray declined to comment on whether or not he'd been in discussions to replace Thomson assuming Thomson does in fact secure the expected promotion. But he did say that Thomson and News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch "did their part" to try and keep him around, and that he's been talking to Pew since the summer.
Murray also said the current situation at News Corp. had no bearing on his decision to leave The Journal, where he's been working since 1983.
"I'm a huge fan of Robert Thomson and of Rupert Murdoch," he said. "I believe they saved The Wall Street Journal. It's not easy to leave."
Left among those thought to be up for the job (and not counting wild cards, which are a favorite with News Corp.'s mercurial chairman, Rupert Murdoch): Deputy editor Gerard Baker; Page One editor Rebecca Blumenstein; deputy managing editor Michael Miller; deputy managing editor and international/investing editor Matt Murray; and Wall Street Journal Asia editor-in-chief Almar Latour.
Today, Thomson sent staff a memo announcing Murray's departure and a promotion for Raju Nasiretti, who will take over Murray's role as digital czar. (Jim Romenesko has the full memo here.) "Raju has played a significant role in our global expansion over the past 12 months, when, among other advances, we bought out our partner in the Japanese site, established a Korean website, and launched a Bahasa site in Indonesia," Thomson wrote.
Murray, meanwhile, said he didn't see his move to Pew as a move away from the news business.
"I've been living with the Pew Research Center for awhile now," he said, "and they're the bible on the stuff I've been doing for the past 10 years relating to the digital transformation of the news business. I don't see it as a huge turn."
From the Pew Center's statement:
"Alan Murray is ideally suited to lead the Pew Research Center in the years ahead," said Donald Kimelman, Chair of the Pew Research Center's board and Managing Director of Information Initiatives at The Pew Charitable Trusts. "Alan has had an exemplary journalistic career in which he has demonstrated great integrity and a solid commitment to impartiality. He's a highly effective and creative leader. And he has a deep understanding of the digital arena in which the center's future will play out."
"Trusted facts are an increasingly rare resource in today's world," Murray said of his appointment. "Andy Kohut has built the Pew Research Center into a rock of reliable information amidst a sea of supposition and spin. I'm honored to be asked to lead this gem of an institution into a new era of global growth."
And here is that tweet from Murray himself:
Friends:I'm leaving WSJ to become President of Pew Research Center.Great institution; important mission. pewrsr.ch/SEdJKh— Alan Murray (@alansmurray) November 2, 2012