Wall Street Journal editor Matt Murray and editor of newsroom strategy Louise Story sent out the following announcement on Tuesday:
Over the past two years, we have remade the newsroom’s senior leadership team and our central editing structure, to focus our leadership and our workflows on growing our digital platforms while continuing to serve our print and Newswire subscribers. Throughout, we have taken steps to bolster our strategic planning for digital growth, most notably with the creation of a Newsroom Strategy area and the R&D Team.
Today, we are happy to announce that we are creating additional newsroom departments and posting more than three dozen new jobs. These new teams will serve as our incubators for new technologies, audience growth, community and news innovation. They will create original content, stories and news features and be a resource for change across all our bureaus and areas of coverage.
The slate of new jobs includes developers, designers, product managers, data specialists, and also, crucially, journalists. There are many new reporting jobs throughout these teams, and furthering our goals to find new ways to work together, the reporters will be seated directly with team members of many different skill sets. We are in need of several entrepreneurial leaders excited to forge ahead with change. And, importantly, for all of the positions, we’re seeking applicants with a journalistic sensibility and background, applicants who recognize and celebrate our already strong journalism and will be able to help us do more of it, for the right audiences, with the right tools, just as soon as we can.
The new jobs are divided into five areas: Young Audiences, Membership Engagement, Newsroom Innovation, Audience Data, and R&D.
Young Audiences: This multi-disciplinary department will be fiercely committed to growing emergent audiences — particularly young readers, expanding on the success our colleagues in Membership have had in growing our college subscriber audience. They will create original content for these audiences in traditional and new story formats; curate and package existing coverage for these audience groups; and work with other parts of the newsroom where there are pockets of reporters whose content gears itself toward these audiences. Their work will provide critical feedback for us more broadly on where the tastes of our future long-term audiences are heading. As this department focuses on young readers, another group will focus on exploring other new audiences.
Membership Engagement: This department will have a laser focus on content-practice initiatives that will help us grow member engagement. One team within it will focus on headlines, tagging, packaging and SEO. Another will create new story formats and further develop existing content types, such as newsletters and rankings, in partnership with the newsroom as well as based on original reporting. And a third team will work to foster our ongoing conversation with our audience, exploring ways to bring readers together around our journalism, through the commenting system as well as through new formats they will create.
Newsroom Innovation: This team will sort through, prioritize and execute on the excellent ideas being contributed to our newsroom Idea Portal, build out new features required by the other new teams we are creating and partner on important newsroom experiments with reporters and editors throughout the newsroom. They will bring engineering and product design expertise to bear on all of the newsroom’s ideas for new storytelling strategies, new coverage features and tests of new journalism products.
Audience Data: With this team we intend to go to the next level in audience data analytics. This team will help develop new metrics, new audience segments and new audience insights. It will also develop predictive models that we can use to give different user groups the experiences that will be most valuable to them and partner with our technology peers in Dow Jones to design the data infrastructure we need for our future. This team will provide critical assistance in adding data science into our strategic thinking as we grow our audience.
The R&D Team: This existing team will continue to be led by Francesco Marconi, our chief of Research & Development and will continue to report to Louise in the new structure. Since the team was set up last year, it has added multiple full-time data scientists who specialize in machine learning and artificial intelligence and has had several visiting fellows. The lab will now add an ML-focused engineer to help it as it develops more audience-facing and newsroom tools. The team has already had great impact: including launching the Idea Portal, carrying out groundbreaking research on artificial intelligence and “deep fake” videos, creating the gender pronoun tool and working on new features on our site to elevate the audience conversation about our stories.
The duties currently performed by the Emerging Media and Audience & Analytics teams will be wrapped into this new structure, in different forms and under new reporting lines. We have already spoken with them about the impact of these coming changes.
Cory Schouten, who has done a great job revamping our newsletters in the past year as well as launching new newsletters and a calendar experiment with the economics desk, will continue his work as our editor of newsletters.
As these teams get going, they will work closely with the Product, Design and Engineering teams, who will provide some of the team members on a rotational basis. They will be essential links to our partners in Dow Jones, including the Dow Jones Innovation Lab, the consumer insights and data products teams, the membership growth teams and the technology team.
These new departments are being set up and overseen by Louise, as part of her work as our editor of newsroom strategy, and you should email her if you are interested in learning more. She will hold a session about these changes in Central Park at 1 p.m. tomorrow (Hangout details will be circulated later). Not only do these expansions offer many exciting new jobs, they are intended to provide resources for partnering with many of you, something we have heard around the newsroom as being highly desired.
All of these changes are central to our strategy: We will continue to be a must-read in our traditional coverage areas while branching into new areas and reaching new audiences. As we innovate, we will stay focused on our news mission as well as on the value we provide to our current — and future — audiences.
We will continue to create news and enterprise journalism in the Journal’s signature way — coming at stories with rigorous evidence, a down-the-middle approach that leaves it up to our audience to decide what they think, and a high standard of creativity and excellence.
And the changes we are announcing today will help put us at the forefront of the industry in the ways we approach growing new audiences, digital storytelling techniques and newsroom-driven innovation.
Matt and Louise