Sat, Jun 20, 2015 - Page 15 News List

‘Wall Street Journal’ begins sweeping cuts

‘THE NEXT STEPS’:The business daily is shedding teams of reporters and closing international bureaus, after Dow Jones’ news business fell 9% and ad revenue 12%

NY Times News Service, NEW YORK

News Corp chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch addresses a crowded Wall Street Journal newsroom in New York on Dec. 13, 2007, after Murdoch’s US$5 billion-plus bid for Dow Jones & Co, publisher of the newspaper, was approved by shareholders.

Photo: AP

Dow Jones, the parent company of the Wall Street Journal, began a sweeping round of job cuts on Thursday, including eliminating entire teams of reporters and closing international bureaus.

In a memo to the staff on Thursday, Journal editor Gerard Baker said that the company was trying to transform to a more digital operation.

“This process inevitably requires us to discontinue some of our activities as we invest more in others,” he said.

He listed challenges that the company faces and outlined its strategy in the memo, which had the subject line “The Next Steps.”

Job cuts are mentioned for the first time in the ninth paragraph.

“We will be consolidating some areas of coverage, merging some bureaus and teams, and discontinuing completely some of what we do,” he said.

That includes reducing the size of European bureaus and closing those in Prague and Helsinki, he said. He said the company would reduce the number of blogs and eliminate the small-business group and the New York-based economics team.

There will be “some further elimination of positions, and a number of our colleagues will be taking buyouts, as is customary at the end of the fiscal year,” he said.

Some in the newsroom feared that meant more layoffs before the end of the month.

Baker did not specify the number of cuts, and it is not clear precisely how many positions will be eliminated or where they will fall, said Tim Martell, a representative of the union, the Independent Association of Publishers’ Employees.

Baker said that, alongside the cuts, over the next few months, the company would be “adding dozens more jobs in the critical areas of business, finance, technology, markets and global economics.”

The company has made staff reductions for several years as the end of its fiscal year approached. Reporters and editors in the New York office of the Journal had been bracing for a more brutal round than usual this year.

News Corp, which owns Dow Jones, said in its most recent earnings report that revenue in the news and information part of the business was down 9 percent, or US$135 million. Advertising revenue was down 12 percent, the report said, driven in part by weakness in print advertising. Circulation and subscription revenue dropped 6 percent.

Within the newsroom, current and former staff members speaking on the condition of anonymity said that reporters and editors had grown used to losing colleagues. Dow Jones has opted to make cuts quietly, they said, and so it is not unexpected to find previously occupied desks empty.

By midmorning on Thursday, the layoffs had begun at the Journal, with journalists called into meetings, those present in the newsroom said.

No official notification was sent to the staff before the meetings began.

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