A senior editor at the Wall Street Journal tried to remove a published data journalism project that explored the effects of the 2008 financial crisis, “because the facts it contained were not politically palatable,” an unsigned memo circulating at the Journal Thursday claimed.
The memo, which was first posted online Thursday by ProPublica senior reporter Jesse Eisinger, said that a senior editor buried the project on the Journal’s website, amounting to a form of “censorship.”
“This week a senior editor at the Wall Street Journal attempted to take a graphic offline because the facts it contained were not politically palatable,” the memo read. “When that failed, it was ‘de-surfaced,’ or, in other terms, taken off the front page and links were removed to it from as many places as possible. After an early flurry of traffic, views plummeted. This is censorship, and it is beneath the standards of the Wall Street Journal. It isn’t the first time, either.”
The project, titled “10 Years After the Crisis,” broke down a number of data points to illustrate how the world has and hasn’t changed in the 10 years since the start of the 2008 financial crisis. A person familiar with the project told Mic it had been in the works for months. “10 Years After the Crisis” was published on Tuesday and has not been removed from the website.
Thursday’s memo, which referred to more than one author, urged staffers to share the project at noon Eastern on Thursday on Twitter, and ended with a quotation from a 1954 Wall Street Journal editorial addressing General Motors’ failed attempt to financially bully the paper into providing better coverage.
“Our business is publishing information, not withholding it,” the quotation reads. “When there is news available about so vital a segment of our economy as the automobile industry we intend to be free to use our own best judgment about publishing it, undeterred by the fact that it may not be ‘authorized.’”
It’s unclear how many people received the memo or who sent it. But around noon on Thursday, the project was shared repeatedly on social media — including by many Journal staffers.
A spokesperson for the Journal told Mic that the data project would be updated with additional information, and declined to comment further.
“This project first published Tuesday morning and has been online ever since,” the spokesperson said. “The team will be adding additional reporting and analysis on the crisis and its aftermath.”
This story is developing and will be updated as more information becomes available.