OLD Media Moves

Dow Jones CEO launches review of Wall Street Journal

October 19, 2016

Posted by Chris Roush

New WSJ AsiaWilliam Lewis, the chief executive officer of Dow Jones & Co., sent out the following to the staff on Wednesday:

Dear Colleague,

Today I am launching a review of The Wall Street Journal that will build on our recent successes and prepare our world-class title for the challenges that lie ahead.

The WSJ2020 review comes at a time when WSJ has broken through the one million mark for digital-only subscribers. Reaching this key milestone is a tribute to the quality of our journalism and a ringing endorsement of the membership-based business model that supports it.

But this review also comes at a time when the industry is undergoing change, and we must adapt. We are not immune to the market forces that are significantly impacting traditional print advertising.

So, we must act – and act now. WSJ2020 will be our action plan for the next three years – a plan that capitalizes on mobile-driven membership efforts and reflects the rebalancing of our revenue streams in the modern media marketplace.

The review will trigger a transformation program designed to modernize the newsroom and raise the standard of our mobile and Professional Information Business products. This will include rationalizing print with the goal of reshaping the newspaper to be more concise and digestible. Our advertising department will focus on delivering maximum value from every transaction and on building a department with the tools and skills to flourish in this new world.

These ongoing efforts will be underpinned by a series of cost management initiatives.

Many of these changes will be difficult. All of them are necessary. We remain proud of what WSJ achieves, day-in and day-out. But to preserve our ability to produce such quality journalism in the future, the case for change is undeniable.

WSJ2020 comprises three main workstreams:

Newsroom Under the stewardship of Editor in Chief Gerry Baker, our newsroom has scooped the world on a series of major stories. The challenge now for Gerry and his team is to forge a new newsroom that can also deliver outstanding products for our members across multiple platforms, preserving our print heritage while fueling significant mobile growth. The newsroom, too, will create stronger links with our Professional Information Business, which is performing well and innovating at pace. In this way, we can increase our focus on delivering news and analysis for professionals.

Advertising Trevor Fellows, global head of advertising sales, and his team have worked tirelessly to deliver valuable revenues in a turbulent market. The challenge now for Trevor and his team is to also become a leader in services to corporate customers, ranging from creative ads to mobile products, as the traditional advertising world undergoes significant change.

Operations Anna Sedgley, our CFO, will lead complementary efforts to ensure all our operations and support services are run as efficiently and competitively as possible. Anna will keep a tight grip on costs throughout this challenging period.

Gerry, Trevor and Anna will provide further detail on their elements of the review in the coming days.

Our market-leading membership business model represents the future for serious journalism. We also benefit from diversified revenue streams with strong income flowing from PIB and subscriptions. Hence, unlike many of our competitors, we are able to undertake this review from a position of strength. For example:

WSJ now has more readers than ever before across print, desktop and mobile.

Consumer circulation revenue overtook advertising in FY16.

Digital members should outnumber print subscribers during the current fiscal year.

This growth is powered by mobile, which has overtaken desktop to become WSJ’s no.1 platform in terms of reach.

The important work of WSJ2020 begins today. While some measures are imminent, a full plan for 2020 will be shared with staff in January. In the meantime, I am keen to hear your views. Please email me at William.Lewis@dowjones.com

These are challenging times. I thank you in advance for your patience and understanding as we set about the difficult task of continuing to build our digital future while responding to the decline in traditional advertising.

William Lewis

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