OLD Media Moves

FT and WSJ editors: Huge increase in digital readership during pandemic

July 17, 2020

Posted by Chris Roush

Matt Murray

The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the push of Financial Times and Wall Street Journal readers to digital offerings, said top editors on Friday.

The Journal, for example, has been sending a pdf of its print paper to its subscribers right after midnight, said editor in chief Matt Murray. 

Murray and Financial Times U.S. managing editor Peter Spiegel spoke Friday during the Quinnipiac University speaker series “The Way Forward” on how businesses and industries are changing due to COVID-19.

“We’ve seen a growth in our online traffic,” Spiegel said. “Our numbers are almost double what they were at the peak of the Brexit crisis, which was our previous all-time high.” It was reported in April that the FT saw online traffic spike 250 percent.

The biggest issue, both editors said, of operating newsrooms during the pandemic has been keeping the lines of communication going between reporters and editors and between different areas of coverage because everyone is working remotely.

“There’s an excitement…in the newsroom,” said Murray. “You’re around a lot of creative and smart people. I miss that enormously.” He also noted the difficulty of communicating with the whole staff at once while everyone is working remotely.

Peter Spiegel

Before the pandemic caused remote work, Spiegel said that the FT’s markets team might notice something and mention it to the finance team or the economics team. “Those conversations are much harder to have now,” he said.

Murray said that the Journal’s reporters have been trained and told not to cover any situation that makes them feel uncomfortable. Spiegel said that because the Financial Times primarily covers business and economics news, its primarily concern has been on ensuring its reporters don’t spread the virus.

“By and large, we’re a financial news organization, and we’re covering people who are not in the offices,” said Spiegel.

To listen, go here.

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