Murdoch Saber Rattles WSJ / Dow Jones

Media Analysis

Rupert Murdoch, Dow Jones & News Corp.Much is underway at the new Murdoch-owned Dow Jones: Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones staffers will be consolidated at the News Corp. building in midtown Manhattan, wsj.com is being revamped and will remain subscription-based, the Journal is leaning more on general news and politics, and an organizational shake-up from the newly-hired top editor Robert Thomson through the middle ranks is positioning Dow for the digital media age.  

The Murdoch digital-stamp is apparent at wsj.com as it  integrates content from other News Corp. properties, such as  MarketWatch, Barron’s, and Fox.  Subtle style changes on the home page have made it easier to navigate, and video is coming front and center.

Murdoch needs to be careful that the “serious” brand of Dow business news is not diluted by his march to Wall Street Journalsnag a wider audience. The Wall Street Journal, along with USA Today, is truly a national newspaper that is not anchored to one locale (Wall Street being a state of mind). The New York Times has made a play for national prominence through a distribution agreement with Starbucks but it will always be perceived as a New York paper.

I welcome the expansion of video on wsj.com.  Rival CNBCmakes excellent use of video on their site and wsj.com has a ways to go before it can be competitive in that department. Professional quality video from Fox is starkly contrasted to columnists like Jon Friedman who are painful to watch. Generally, print reporters are not making the transition to on-air journalism.  Ironically, they need media training.

Related: Murdoch Grab of Dow Jones PR Feat, PRBlogNews, Aug. 2, 2007 |  New York Times GaGa Over Rupert’s Yogurt at Boldface Business Confab, PRBlogNews, July 22, 2007

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See Robert Thomson memo to staff about editorial changes. 

From: Thomson, Robert
Sent: Thursday, June 19, 2008 12:55 PM
To: WSJ All News Staff
Subject: Editorial leadership

Dear All,
I am pleased to announce significant changes to the editorial leadership of The Wall Street Journal, changes which will expedite decision-making and give increased authority and responsibility to reporters and bureau chiefs. These changes will take place in tandem with the creation of a central news desk that will allow significantly enhanced co-operation between print, web and Newswires journalists, in New York and around the world.

At the heart of our new structure will be a National, International and Enterprise Team, a triumvirate which will report directly to me and to whom the bureau chiefs will report. Effective July 7, Matt Murray will become National Editor, overseeing American general and corporate news, and Nikhil Deogun will become International Editor and directly oversee our global network of bureaus and correspondents. Mike Williams will preside over a broadened Page One, being responsible for investigative reporting, as well A-heds and leders. The troika, who will become Deputy Managing Editors, will sit close together in what could prosaically be called a “news hub”, thus streamlining commissioning and editing decisions, and giving them a central role in the production and presentation of copy for the paper and the website.

Mike Miller, who continues to oversee the Journal’s features sections, is to be Senior Deputy Managing Editor and will be responsible for editing the paper if I am otherwise engaged. Cathy Panagoulias becomes a Deputy Managing Editor and will take a greater role in providing administrative support for bureau chiefs and in hiring decisions. Jim Pensiero is to be Deputy Managing Editor for operations, and is masterminding our move to Midtown and the introduction of a new publishing system. Alix Freedman will have expanded authority as a defender of the paper’s ethical and journalistic standards. Alan Murray will remain as Executive Editor of the Journal Online, which will have a more influential role at the heart of the reformed news structure, and becomes a Deputy Managing Editor.

Deputy Managing Editor Dan Hertzberg will take responsibility for the European and Asian editions, and will have the task of building our editorial presence and profile in Europe and, in particular, in the U.K. Reg Chua becomes Senior Assistant Managing Editor, and will oversee the Design Team – a new Director of Design will be appointed in coming days – and the development of data resources.

Most news organizations in the U.S. and around the world are in retreat, but Dow Jones is expanding its reporting resources, rapidly developing its digital content and providing journalism of the highest integrity to an ever larger audience in The Wall Street Journal.

Yours,
Robert.

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