WSJ overhauls how its news operations work
Wall Street Journal editor in chief Gerard Baker sent out the following announcement to the staff on Wednesday:
In the past few years we have made great progress in equipping our newsroom for the challenges of the digital age and in integrating and streamlining our editing resources to ensure we continue to publish, hour by hour, the world’s most trusted news and information.
But the demands of the competitive and increasingly digital and mobile market for news require us to constantly evaluate our procedures and structures to stay on top.
Despite the progress made, some of our operations still predate the digital age and still bend our daily endeavors too much towards traditional print obligations.
It’s time to update our entire editing architecture to ensure it is a model of modern news output. In the process, we will take steps to ensure better coordination of the various functions it encompasses.
So today I am pleased to announce a number of significant changes to the structure of our newsroom and its leadership.
The objectives of these changes are:
- to improve the speed and quality of our news and analysis for digital audiences and platforms, drive visuals, video and other types of new storytelling and make digital less dependent on a print timetable and structure.
- to focus and refine our digital products, from our desktop wsj.com to mobile.
- to fully digitize our unsurpassed enterprise journalism—and have a central, high-quality editing operation focused on elevating our best work for all platforms.
- to produce a much cleaner newsroom structure—more clearly defined roles for both newsgathering on one end, and news output on all of our platforms on the other.
- to ensure we can deploy editing resources where they are most needed at a given moment—whether real time or on any given day.
- to keep the print paper, still a critical product for us, strong—indeed to enhance it by focusing the resources we devote to it.
- to build on our progress towards creating a genuinely global news product.
- to streamline the editorial oversight of Newswires and aggressively develop our other news products for professionals.
to improve collaboration with all parts of the company to produce growth opportunities, even as we maintain the highest standards of our journalism.
OUTPUT AND NEWSGATHERING
The principal innovation is the construction of a more coherent organization for the whole newsroom. My two inestimable deputies will take overall responsibility for each of the two broad strands of our activity: newsgathering, responsible for the unearthing and reporting of news, and output, responsible for its dissemination.
Rebecca Blumenstein will be responsible for our newsgathering operations. Our bureaus will all report up to her through the bureau chiefs and the coverage chiefs—Glenn Hall, U.S. News Editor; Adam Horvath, World News Editor; Jason Anders, Business Editor; and Dennis Berman, Financial Editor—will also now report to her. Their teams of bureaus and reporters in the U.S. and around the world will be responsible for producing news as they do now, and Rebecca, working with me, will oversee this talented and creative newsgathering operation.
Matt Murray will be responsible for overseeing our output across all platforms, leading our news desks as well as our various editors responsible for the web and mobile and social platforms. All our output—whether in the print paper, on the website, or on our various smartphone and tablet apps and mobile products, as well as in the new vehicles for our journalism that we develop—will fall under Matt’s purview. Matt will work closely with senior editors and with me to ensure that our output is of the highest quality in all its forms.
NEWS AND ENTERPRISE EDITORS
Page One has been the embodiment of our finest journalism for decades. But as its very name implies it is a print construct. Despite some important and memorable digital work in recent years, its operations and structure have become steadily less well-suited to the demands of digital news. We need to continually improve both the news and enterprise functions of Page One for all platforms of The Journal. The best way to do that is to separate the teams responsible for news and enterprise.
So I am replacing the existing Page One operation with a new structure.
Alex Martin will take on the new role of Editor, News. Alex, whose eye for news and ability to make it engaging and required reading are peerless, will be responsible for all the output of the global newsroom. He will work closely each day with coverage chiefs to ensure a copious flow of the best quality news reporting and analysis of daily news events that shape our world. He will run a large digital desk at the heart of the newsroom combining many of the existing resources from the real time and subject desks and of course will ensure every day that our finest journalism is available in print. Work will begin immediately on building the new desk, and Alex will work closely with digital news editor Erin White, who will also be a deputy to him, as well as the desk chiefs. We will have more details on the desk structure soon.
Matthew Rose is appointed Editor, Enterprise. Matthew, who has deep journalistic experience and a lengthy record of great enterprise work as a writer and editor, will lead the endeavors of the whole newsroom in producing the finest global enterprise journalism—including but not limited to, leders, features, A-heds and other original reporting. He will build on the success we have had with reinventing our enterprise journalism for digital publication, through improved use of graphics, video and other visuals, producing immersive stories of great weight and consequence. And he will work to ensure that our most penetrating reporting is available in increasingly engaging and complementary form in print.
Both Alex and Matthew will report to Matt Murray.
In addition, David Ho, Mobile Editor, and Carla Zanoni, Social and Emerging Media Editor, will report to Matt as mobile and emerging media move closer to the center of the newsroom. And we will shortly create the role of a print editor, also reporting to Matt.
DIGITAL PRODUCTS AND INNOVATION
We need drive and innovation from the top to push our digital and mobile frontiers further and faster.
Jennifer Hicks is appointed Editor, Digital Products and Innovation. Jenn, who is one of the smartest digital minds in the news business and has demonstrated creativity and command of digital journalism at the highest levels, will be responsible for ensuring that our existing products are the most advanced in their class and for constantly working to develop new digital products and methods of publishing. She will liaise closely with Dow Jones’s technology department and others on the commercial side to ensure we are all working harmoniously to improve our products.
NEWS FOR PROFESSIONALS
Our news products for professionals remain critical to the company’s success, and the opportunities that are being developed by the company’s Professional Information Business department require us to focus resources at a high level on existing and new services for this audience. Newswires will continue to be the linchpin of our professional news products and we will still drive a continuous flow of scoops, Market Talks and other stories for the wire. But the arrival of WSJ Pro is a promising new product that signals an innovative direction for our professional news and we will look to develop more opportunities.
Stephen Wisnefski is appointed Editor, Professional News, to oversee all these and other business-oriented news products. Steve is a Newswires veteran, whose steady hand in charge of real time news in the last few years has raised the quality, reach and timeliness of our professional news products.
We’ve worked closely with colleagues from across the whole company to expand the reach of our journalism while always remaining true to the highest standards and ethics of our reporting. From Snapchat to One Journal, and from WSJ Pro to WSJ City, critical initiatives have been launched that are designed to broaden the reach of our journalism. There will be more investment and innovation and we need someone of the strongest journalistic timber to be our representative in all these discussions.
Ann Podd is appointed Editor, Business Initiatives. Ann is a treasured veteran of The Journal, whose wisdom and tenacity have played a vital role in our success. There is no more passionate advocate for the newsroom, no more principled journalist here, nor someone with a greater zeal for extending our reach than Ann.
Jennifer, Steve and Ann will all report directly to me.
Our global ambitions are growing along with our circulation and traffic around the world and we have many more opportunities to exploit.
Thorold Barker has led a team producing some of the finest journalism we have ever had in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. At the same time he has helped drive an expansion of the Journal and other DJ news services in the region. Thorold will continue to be responsible for the news operations of EMEA and produce even better coverage, but he will also be tasked to build on and explore opportunities for growth — whether it be more conferences and events, apps, or new DJ journalism products in the region.
Paul Beckett, who has done the same job for us with great skill and leadership in Asia-Pacific and who has likewise led a team of journalists producing memorable scoops, analysis and high-impact reporting, will have the same responsibilities in that region. Asia remains the fastest growing region in the world, and under Paul we will continue to produce the best coverage of this dynamic story, as well as seek to push further the boundaries of our activities there.
Both Thorold and Paul will be members of a formal senior editors group along with Matt, Rebecca and me, whose role will be to seek strategic opportunities for expansion around the world.
Thorold and Paul will report to Rebecca.
EVENTS AND SPECIALIZED PRODUCTS
Dave Pettit, who has done an excellent job in the last few years developing and reorganizing our Newswires products and launching WSJ Pro, will take on a new broad responsibility for our specialized WSJ news services—the CIO, CFO, CMO networks, and will look for opportunities to create new ones. He will also take on management of events and conferences, tapping into the great potential of our business there, which has grown significantly in the last few years and for which we have significant additional growth plans. In this last field, he will work with John Bussey and our business side colleagues. Dave will report to Rebecca, who assumes overall responsibility for events and conferences.
The Saturday print edition and weekend digital editions of the Journal have been a jewel in the company’s crown since they were relaunched seven years ago. Review, Off Duty and WSJ. Magazine are best-in-class products that are essential parts of the Journal’s reach.
I’m eager to bring some of the same creativity and energy that has made them indispensable to readers to the news sections of the weekend edition and to our digital coverage throughout the weekend.
Mike Miller, whose creative genius has led the transformation of our features sections in the last seven years, will take on the task of overhauling our weekend news sections in the role of Weekend Editor, in addition to his existing responsibilities.
Mike continues to report to me, as do our other senior editors: Christine Glancey, for news operations, Neal Lipschutz for standards and ethics, Jessica Yu for visuals, and Andy Regal for video.
These are, as I said, far-reaching changes. They will take time to implement and I expect the process of realigning the news desks in particular to absorb some significant effort over the next few months. I will have more details as the process gets under way. I also plan a physical reorganization of the New York newsroom to facilitate these changes and to create a more modern and open space for our journalists.
But as we adapt to the digital challenge and digest these important improvements to the way we work, we should never lose sight of the fact that the fundamentals of what we do every day do not change. We produce the finest, most accurate and most trusted coverage of major news anywhere. We break stories that have global impact, help our readers make decisions critical to their lives and hold the powerful accountable. We are an indispensable tool for anyone who needs to understand the business, economic and political environment in which they live, and we complement that with the most engaging coverage of arts, culture and life. These changes will help more of our peerless journalism reach more readers in the way they demand.