Dow Jones Plans WSJ Review

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The Wall Street Journal announced plans Wednesday for a substantial revamp of its print newspaper as parent company Dow Jones & Co. launched a broader review of operations to cut costs in response to a significant decline in print advertising.

Dow Jones Chief Executive William Lewis said the review, dubbed WSJ2020, would seek to come up with an action plan for the next three years and identify the best ways to rebalance revenue streams as the news industry continues to undergo a tumultuous shift toward digital and mobile, in particular.

"These are challenging times. I thank you in advance for your patience and understanding as we set about the difficult task of continuing to build our digital future while responding to the decline in traditional advertising," Mr. Lewis said in a memo to staff.

The memo didn't lay out specifics, but people familiar with the situation said one element of the plan involves combining the "Business & Tech" and "Money & Investing" sections. That would be aimed at reducing production costs, and wouldn't signal a cutback in coverage in those core areas, one of the people said.

"The new product will be a livelier, sharper and more concise newspaper that is an engaging counterpart to our digitally delivered news," his memo read. "It will also present a more coherent organization of our coverage in print, and will involve some consolidation of sections of the paper and the teams that produce it."

Mr. Baker added that the measures "will require difficult decisions, with some inevitable significant restructuring and they will, regrettably, mean concomitant cost reductions." People familiar with the matter said the revamp could include a reduction of head count.

Mr. Lewis's note said the review would focus on three key areas: the newsroom, advertising sales and areas where the company can be more efficient. A full action plan is expected to be shared with the Journal's staff in January, he said.

The transformation will be "underpinned by a series of cost management initiatives," Mr. Lewis wrote. The advertising department will need to innovate and include more creative ads and mobile products, while the chief financial officer will be tasked with keeping a "tight grip on costs."

The volatility isn't unique to the Journal. The New York Times earlier this year announced a similar review, called the 2020 Report, to chart a path forward as readers move online and increasingly onto mobile platforms. The paper has said it is planning a downsizing of staff and the shifting of resources within the newsroom to more digital roles by early next year.

Mr. Lewis said the review at Dow Jones comes as the shift of readers and advertisers to digital has accelerated, with the paper crossing the one million digital subscriber mark for the first time.

He said digital subscribers were expected to outnumber print subscribers at some point in the current fiscal year, which ends June 30. The memo also noted that circulation revenue overtook advertising revenue in the past fiscal year.

The paper had 1.09 million print subscribers, as of July 1, and an average daily circulation of 1.38 million.

Write to Lukas I. Alpert at

  (END) Dow Jones Newswires
  Copyright (c) 2016 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

This article appears in: News Headlines
Referenced Symbols: NWS , NWSA , NYT

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