Media Moves

WSJ publisher: Our relationship is built on trust

August 12, 2020

Posted by Chris Roush

Almar Latour

Wall Street Journal publisher Almar Latour, who is also the new CEO of Dow Jones & Co., wrote the following to its readers:

Dear Readers:

Charles Dow and Edward Jones might not have considered this a possibility when they founded The Wall Street Journal 131 years ago, but the publication in your hands is a countercultural force in today’s media.

Agenda-driven reporting on the news is on the rise; news and opinion are increasingly blended; and, not surprisingly, trust in the media has reached a new low. Gallup and the Knight Foundation recently found that the majority of Americans believe inaccuracies in the news are due to reporters either misrepresenting or making up facts. Against this trend, the Journal’s news coverage stands as a beacon with its uniquely detached, researched, factual reporting. It remains the most trusted national newspaper in the U.S., according to a recent survey by the Reuters Institute.

Demand for our trusted brand of factual analysis and insight is rising: Our readership has never been greater, with more than three million subscribers and tens of millions of visitors to our apps and sites every month. And in spite of the pandemic and its economic impact, our business is performing well and growing. Quality news can be a sustainable—and profitable—enterprise, and it was for us in the fiscal year ended June 30.

Moreover, in a world facing major challenges that are affecting all our lives, quality news can make a difference. We believe we stand apart for our focus on money, business, careers, economics—the forces that shape the world around us and your own lives.

We are humbled by your expression of trust. Since taking on the role as the publisher of this remarkable U.S. and global institution, I have received many reader letters and feedback in meetings expressing the importance of our news organization’s balanced reporting. Having worked here for a quarter-century—much of it as a reporter and editor before becoming publisher—I want to assure you that the values we uphold today reflect our founders’ vision for producing news that is “honest, intelligent and unprejudiced.”

As we embark on a new (fiscal) year here, we will push ever harder to increase the Journal’s reach, impact and influence. We will invest in journalism and in digital excellence to help deliver it to as many people as possible. Americans’ trust is declining not just in media, but also in government, and in each other, according to the Pew Research Center. We are all facing great uncertainty, crises and big choices on how to tackle our collective challenges. The Journal’s pursuit of quality journalism at scale can and should help inform that debate at a critical time.

Let me offer you some of our bedrock values that are worth repeating: An old motto for The Wall Street Journal was “The Truth in its proper use”—a phrase that still applies today and sums up why we exist. We aim to be the source of truth for our readers around the world, in business, finance and life. Truth—facts—are necessary things whether you’re launching a rocket into space, choosing a stock, or writing a law. Trust is a precious thing, and everyone at the Journal gets up every day knowing that we have to earn it, aware of how easily it can be lost.

As we seek to grow, our opinion pages, led by Editorial Page Editor Paul Gigot, form a key part of that effort. Mr. Gigot and his team will continue to provoke thought—and, no doubt, emotions—without interference. His pages have always stood for the same values even as winds change, always been unafraid to challenge conventional wisdom, all the while staying rooted to the editorial board’s philosophical commitment to “free people, free markets.” Their independence, like that of the Journal newsroom, is backstopped by a special committee and is unassailable.

Together, the news and opinion operations, which have operated independently from each other throughout our history and both of which report to me, create an exciting and unique ecosystem in American media. Our own internal reader surveys show again and again that the overwhelming majority of our readers deeply value our opinion pages as well as our news reporting.

Facts are important, but of course journalism is a human enterprise, and we make mistakes every day. And when we do, we own up to them and prominently correct them. It is humbling for any reporter or editor (or publisher), and a reminder to be careful as we strive with every article to uphold our commitment to you, our readers.

Journalists do face dangers, and we care deeply about the safety of our employees. At the Journal, we know these risks all too well and we have a global team dedicated to aiding journalists in tough positions. This is not just theory. In hot spots around the world—from the Middle East to Asia and beyond—our security team works hard to make sure our writing staff can fulfill our promise to readers.

We also want to connect with you, the readers, even more than we do today, giving you an opportunity to engage with us and with one another. Our readers are an amazing untapped social network containing expertise on myriad topics. There is great potential and benefit in hearing your voices. We will work to improve our service to reader communities, offering you more depth in the areas you care about most.

We are committed to make sure you can enjoy the Journal in the ways that are most helpful to you, via our app, our website, our podcasts, video, TV, newsletters, social platforms, or in print. We will invest to make your experience the best one possible. This way, you can put truth to good ends. As you do so, we remain grateful for your support.

Almar Latour

Publisher

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