...[the] memo's tone and its potentially far-reaching implications ensured it much scrutiny from anxious Journal employees, many of whom thought they detected in it the sound of a long-awaited second shoe dropping. "There was a historic-moment kind of feel about it," says one reporter.
That momentousness lay in Thomson's declaration of a "fundamental shift in orientation" within the newsroom. Pre-Murdoch, Journal reporters had a mandate to pursue the sort of in-depth, counter-intuitive and/or quirky stories that would result in the lengthy page-one articles known as "leders." Publishing leders was widely seen as the highest aim of the Journal writer.