OLD Media Moves

Memo to Murdoch: Sell SmartMoney stake

August 2, 2007

Posted by Chris Roush

BusinessWeek’s Los Angeles bureau chief Ronald Grover has some advice for News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch on how to turn around the fortunes of Dow Jones & Co., the parent of The Wall Street Journal and Barron’s, which he agreed to acquire earlier this week.

Ronald GroverGrover wrote that Murdoch should sell the Journal’s printing plants around the country and also its 50 percent stake in Smart Money magazine, which is a joint venture with Hearst.

He added, “The Journal‘s 931,000 online subscribers and the 88,000 at Barrons are among the most lucrative in the country. High income, attentive readers. So why not sell more ads? Cut the subscription price—heck, kill it altogether—and offer tiers for some specialized services. Then watch those numbers climb.

“But how do you boost subscriptions at the Journal, which sorely needs the boost? More spirited writing, maybe? What about some good-old fashioned promotion? The paper spends just about nothing on marketing. Goose that. Promote it on Fox News (yes, I know the Journal has a long-term deal to provide reporters to CNBC—details, details.) And all those guys who watch the NFL on Fox? Offer them cut-rate subscriptions to track their stock portfolios like they do Reggie Bush’s rushing stats.

“And ramp up the use of all those stock tables, tickers, and news briefs that are now digitally delivered online. Cell phones are ideal for getting news on the go, and your Fox studio is also knee-deep in cell phone filmmaking. Same for MySpace. It must reach about half the U.S. population by now. With the average age for MySpace users creeping toward 40, those people become prime candidates for stock info, news, maybe even Walt Mossberg‘s gadget reviews.”

Read more here.

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