First Signs Of Trouble At The Wall Street Journal?

from the looking-that-way... dept

The Wall Street Journal’s own strategy over the past few years has been baffling for some. They seem to be betting on the fact that there simply could never be any competition to match the WSJ. However, with a string of moves that suggest they’re completely unaware of how the internet works, plenty of people have been pointing out that the Wall Street Journal is losing its relevance. Of course, this brings out cries about how much better the content is in the WSJ — but if people don’t find it valuable relative to the competition, then it doesn’t matter how good the content is, the Journal will have trouble competing. It appears that the Journal’s own advertisers are figuring this out, and have bailed on the paper, leading the paper to report troubled earnings and worries about the strategy of the paper going forward. So far, the strategy seems to be to convince other newspapers to make the same mistakes the WSJ did. This is the “if everyone screws up as badly as we did, then we won’t look so bad” strategy that tends not to work so well in the real world. The article notes, by the way, that the Journal’s online division out-performed the paper division — but that’s probably a red herring, since it’s difficult to split the costs of each. Are stories that show up on both considered an expense for the paper, the online part, or both? No matter what, this shows that advertisers are recognizing that the WSJ hasn’t been able to adjust with the times, and there are better places to put their money when it comes to advertising to the financial crowd. For a paper that’s supposed to be on the Wall Street beat, you’d figure they’d have a better sense as to when their own market shifted out from under them.

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Comments on “First Signs Of Trouble At The Wall Street Journal?”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Paper and Ink

I would venture that even if all the overhead tied to story creation (reporter and editor salary, office space, travel and research expense accounts, etc) were laid at the door of the online edition, it would still wildly outperform the print edition. Paper costs are at record highs, and ink is not cheap. Running multiple presses (probably with a backup press on standby 24/7) and the logistics of paper and ink fullfilment must be astronomical.

I agree that the WSJ has some of the best writing (the only real competition is The Economist), but by shutting themselves off from the rest of the internet they are shooting themselves in the foot.

Flip the whole thing: spin off the on-line edition from the print version, have the online entity get all the reporters and facilities, and then have the print version license the copy from the online business.

[The above statement probably shows why I am not a media mogul.]

david gonzalez says:


i don’t agree that the wall street journal is becoming any less relevant…in the markets that it serves. first, split relevancy from good business practice. is it relevant? that is, do it’s target customers read it, respect it and turn to it for information? i think the answer is yes. are we (the readers and bloggers at techdirt) in their core audience? probably not. prime demo for the wsj are financial and industrial professionals in major financial markets. techdirt readers? mike may know better, but i’m guessing we are in large part technology professionals (and related), spread around the world in technology hubs. we don’t read it or write about it b/c we cannot link to it. fact is, i know a large number of financial professionals who subcribe to the print and/or online version, swear by it and read most of the paper every day. for them…it’s their…well, techdirt.

whether the folks at dow jones are good business people is another question altogether. although we tend to dismiss them (in our desire for knowledge to be free), they have been a HUGE success story. who else gets a bunch of people to pay more than $50/year to access their content? not Y!; not CNN; not TD. Mike uses TD as a hook for his corporate services, and that works for him. The WSJ gets people to pay yearly for their content, and many do so.

Print is dying, and everyone knows it. You can’t blame the dinosaurs for wringing every bit out of it that they can, as well as having a hard time figuring out how to handle all the personnel they have decicated to the project. That said, the journal is doing allright. They serve their target market, and they seem to be poised better than most to make the leap from their current media to online. Think about it, if TV went away tomorrow, how much revenue would CNN have? At least the journal would have $60/year per sub…


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