RUPERT’S JOURNAL ENTRY: Standing on boxes of computer paper in the Wall Street Journal’s ninth-floor newsroom, Rupert Murdoch addressed the entire Dow Jones staff Thursday afternoon for the first time, hours after News Corp.’s purchase of the company had been finalized in a shareholder meeting. (The meeting was largely symbolic, as proxy votes had already assured the deal.) He spoke of tremendous change in the world and the need for the Journal be a resource as millions of people have emerged from poverty and joined the world economy, according to people in the room. “It wasn’t a rallying speech,” said one staffer. “Just a state of affairs.”
Said another: “He used the word ‘nervousness’ half a dozen times” to refer to how he presumed the staff felt.
This story first appeared in the December 14, 2007 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“I know you all have work to do,” Murdoch finished, “so don’t get scooped!”
Incoming Dow Jones chief executive officer Les Hinton and new Wall Street Journal publisher Robert Thomson (whom Murdoch said would have no financial responsibilities) also spoke briefly. Thomson said, “A man standing still is a man overrun,” and emphasized that the Wall Street Journal would maintain its tradition of honesty, integrity and “perspicacity.” (This word caused significant brow-furrowing in the newsroom, according to several people. Perhaps Thomson’s first order of business should be dispensing a dictionary.)
At the shareholder meeting earlier that day, famed activist shareholder and self-described “queen of the corporate jungle” Evelyn Y. Davis livened up the proceedings by addressing former Dow Jones ceo Richard Zannino, who was attending his last such affair after only a year and a half in the position. Two people who attended said she told Zannino he had made a great retail executive — his résumé includes stints at Liz Claiborne and Saks Holdings — and challenged him to put his fashion skills to the test by guessing who had designed her rather unusual suit. He thought for a moment and said, “Valentino.” She told him he was right. — Irin Carmon
IS IT OK!?: Fashion guru Tim Gunn is one of fashion’s newest ubiquitors, with several jobs including mentor on Bravo’s hit reality series, “Project Runway,” and chief creative officer at Liz Claiborne. But the latter title seemed to create a conflict of interest with his role as a fashion advice columnist for OK!. In the Dec. 3 issue, a reader asked what denim brands he recommended. Gunn replied, “Liz Claiborne jeans fit everybody — they’re remarkable. Another set of jeans I subscribe to is Lucky Brand. I have never had a better fitting pair of jeans in my life.” Gunn’s loyalty to his employer is expected, but nowhere does OK! disclose Gunn’s job at Liz Claiborne. A reference to “Project Runway” is the only identifier OK! uses for Gunn.
OK! said it felt no need to note Gunn’s corporate ties in his column, and that Gunn’s job at Liz Claiborne doesn’t affect his ability to disperse fashion advice. “It is Tim’s column and his forum to say what he likes,” said an OK! spokesman. “We didn’t feel particularly obligated to report more than what Tim gave us. We stand by it.”
Gunn, meanwhile, said he is under no pressure to recommend only Liz Claiborne products. “The answers I provide to the questions OK! asks reflect the opinions I have garnered from my experience in the fashion industry,” he said. “While the answers to that particular question refer to brands owned by Liz Claiborne Inc., I call out a variety of brands in the other questions — again those labels I feel best answer the question. The editors at OK! magazine know that, among the many hats I wear, chief creative officer of Liz Claiborne Inc. is one and they decide how best to identify me to readers.”
Gunn contributed a handful of columns to the magazine, but OK! will swap Gunn’s column for advice from Stacy London from TLC’s “What Not to Wear,” in order to keep the column fresh, OK!’s spokesman explained.
— Stephanie D. Smith
JUNO RISING: Diablo Cody, née Brook Busey, is an undeniable blogosphere success story: A talent agent spotted her blog on being a stripper in Minnesota and persuaded her to write a memoir, and then the screenwriting sample that became the widely acclaimed film “Juno,” currently in theaters. (On Thursday, the film, its lead actress and her screenplay were nominated for Golden Globe awards.) Now she’s adding magazine columnist to her roster. While Entertainment Weekly can’t print the name of her blog (nor can this newspaper — as EW editor in chief Rick Tetzeli joked, the dashes in The P—y Ranch don’t indicate “penny”), it can make her the magazine’s first female back-page columnist, alternating with the likes of Stephen King. “She’s a lot of fun, she says what she thinks, she’s new enough to Hollywood that she still writes about it with a really fresh perspective, but she’s really in the game,” said Tetzeli. The column makes its debut today and includes Cody’s musings on her press junket for “Juno.” A preview: It wasn’t as close to “Almost Famous” as she’d hoped. — I.C.