Gerard Baker gets a new title, sort of

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A commuter reads the Wall Street Journal. (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato)
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The Wall Street Journal has traditionally had a rather arcane method of masthead designations.

At the top of the ladder, the No.1 person in the newsroom is jointly titled "managing editor" of the Journal and "editor in chief" of Dow Jones, the paper's parent entity and sister outlet.

It sometimes makes for clumsy copy when referring to said person in news articles (or 140-character bursts, for that matter).

But now that the newsrooms of Dow Jones and the Journal have been fully integrated, the titles are apparently being streamlined as well.

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In company boilerplate and other official announcements lately, Gerard Baker is just called editor in chief of The Wall Street Journal.

A spokeswoman for the paper said they informally switched to the simplified title in mid-November, around the time Baker started using Twitter and blasting out a morning email newsletter called "The 10-Point."

"In a social media world where every character counts, Editor In Chief is simply shorthand," she said, noting that Baker's official title remains, "Managing Editor, The Wall Street Journal, Editor In Chief, Dow Jones & Company."

Several Journal veterans agreed that the shift, albeit mostly functional in purpose, was somewhat noteworthy.

The reason for having "managing editor" as the top title, our sources said in a nutshell, has to do with nuances about seniority, divisions between the newsroom and the editorial page, and—at the end of the day—"custom."

As for why Baker is listed solely as editor in chief on the actual masthead in the print edition: for one thing, it might seem odd to put a managing editor above the paper's two deputy editors-in-chief or its executive editor (a title that signifies, by contrast, the top slot at The New York Times and The Washington Post, but that's another story). Plus the masthead does say: "Published since 1889 by Dow Jones & Company."

Confused? You're not the only one.

"You're editor in chief of Dow Jones. What does that mean?," Charlie Rose asked Baker during a Monday night interview on Rose's PBS show.

"This is kind of a little complicated sort of internal taxonomy," said Baker. "The reason that the division [between the Journal and Dow Jones titles] has been erased somewhat is that we merged the two news organizations over the last few years so that we are now one single news organization."

Some of Rose's other questions were a bit more riveting, like how did Baker feel about parting ways with longtime Journal technology columnist Walt Mossberg, his business partner Kara Swisher and their AllThingsD franchise?

“There are no words to capture the importance of the role that [Mossberg] played,” Baker said, but “they wanted to be increasingly independent. They wanted an independent operation. … For a business newspaper to be essentially outsourcing a very, very significant part of our technology coverage to an increasingly independent operation didn’t seem to me to be the right way to go.”

National newspapers: "It this the wave of the future?"

"I think it is," said Baker. "When you can get high quality news and information about the world, around the world, on your digital device, from everywhere—the readers in St. Louis don't need the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, good newspaper though it is, to cover every single thing that's going on in the world in the way that it used to. So I think increasingly what people are looking for is high-quality, international and national news organizations that have the resources, the reputation and the ability to cover those big stories."

Last but not least: "How often do you tweet?"

"Not as often as my social editors would like me to."

For the record, Baker's Twitter bio reads: "Editor-in-Chief of The Wall Street Journal"