WSJ’s Baker wants a print edition that can be sustainable
Joseph Lichterman of Nieman Lab spoke with Wall Street Journal editor Gerard Baker about the changes the paper implemented on Monday.
Here is an excerpt:
Joseph Lichterman: A lot of the changes were laid out in the memo you sent, but to start, I was hoping you could tell me a bit about the thinking behind the decisions you made.
Gerard Baker: We’ve been thinking about the whole structure and presentation of the print paper for awhile. Obviously, we make quite a lot of changes to it over the years — adding sections, subtracting sections, consolidating, changing the names, and that kind of stuff — and we’ve been thinking that it’s time for a refresh.Obviously, I won’t pretend that this didn’t become more pressing with the decline in print advertising. You know all about that. We’ve seen that very sharp decline this year. News Corp. said the other day in its earnings report that overall advertising fell 21 percent at the Journal in this third calendar quarter — that’s our first fiscal quarter. We didn’t break out the print number, but that’s a significant overall decline in advertising. So we think that we’ve probably seen this year a significant overall decline in print advertising that is probably sustained at a new lower level. That gave additional context to our rethinking of what the print edition should be.
What I wanted to do was to create a print edition that would be placed on a sustainable footing, stable financial footing in an era of significantly lower print advertising. If you look at the print edition from 15 years ago, it was much thicker. There was much more advertising in that paper. I think we all acknowledge we’re in an era where we’re not going to have that level of print advertising. I think it was right to get a print product that could be, as I say, durable and sustainable in an era of print advertising. So that led us to think about the whole way in which we present the paper. I’ve always been keen to perhaps a more coherent presentation of the various areas and various sections with in the paper.
Read more here.