I hesitate to contradict Michael Wolff because he haunts my nightmares, staring at me with his cold, dead eyes. Or super-creepy Halloween contact lenses, or whatever.
And I won't dispute his actual points when it comes to the Wall Street Journal--though one wonders just how "focused" and "targeted" its readership of 2.1 million is, given that it's the second largest paper in the nation. Not exactly niche.
But Wolff's zeitgeist-y, impossible-to-actually-prove, impressionistic, snatched-from-the-thin-electrified-air-that-surrounds-his-pulsating-
veiny-glowing-genius-brain argument that the WSJ doesn't matter anymore is still wrong, even in the squishy domain from which Wolff's arguments tend to hail. The WSJ's general absence from the web makes it more elite, and hence more influential.
It's like a tip-sheet that people who matter read. Its general lack of availability online relative to the Times or the Post, coupled with its popularity among people who have a lot of money and power, gives it an air of exclusivity. At the same time, it's a mass circulation paper, so it moves the business and political agenda in a way that actual elite publications, like trades or controlled-circ magazines or whatever, can't do by themselves. So every day there are proverbial "must-reads" in the WSJ not just anyone has access to. It's very old-world, but exclusivity amplifies power, I think, in the zeitgeist-y, sweet-spot sense that Wolff is talking about. The "did you see that Journal story?" conversation is much less satisfying if everyone has seen the story.