Alan Murray, Executive Editor of the Wall Street Journal Online, Delivers R. Peter Straus '44 Distinguished Lecture
Upon his return to the Wall Street Journal after a stint at CNBC, Alan Murray began writing a column that chronicled the business world through the eyes of a CEO. His first columns came just as a number of prominent CEOs were being fired for a variety of infractions. “There was almost an epidemic of CEOs getting kicked out against their will,” he said. “Twenty-five percent of the Fortune 60 lost their CEOs involuntarily. It was like the French Revolution in the corporate world. The guillotines were out and heads were rolling.”
Murray spoke to an audience at SOM on December 4 as this year’s R. Peter Strauss ’44 Distinguished Lecturer. The lecture series brings leaders of the media to the school to discuss issues surrounding the press and public responsibility. Murray has had a distinguished career at the Wall Street Journal, which he joined in 1983. He’s been a Washington correspondent and editor of the Washington bureau, which won three Pulitzer’s under his tenure. He is now the executive editor of the Wall Street Journal Online and has editorial responsibility for Wall Street Journal television, books, conferences, and the MarketWatch website. Murray left the company for two years to host a show on politics at CNBC, but when he returned in 2005, he set out to understand what it was like to lead a major corporation in the post-Enron world of greater public scrutiny and the Sarbanes-Oxley regulations.
Murray started interviewing chief executives and came to the conclusion that the very role of the CEO was in the midst of a transformation as profound as any time since the Great Depression. The days of the imperial CEO, he said, were over. “CEOs of big public companies increasingly have to act like politicians,” he said. “At the end of the day a public company is a public institution. They need the goodwill of the public to survive.”
For more on the changing nature of the American CEO, watch or listen to Alan Murray’s lecture.