The outlines of what modern print-based media are becoming can be seen in Dow Jones’ reorganization announcement. In short, Dow Jones severed the knot, refocusing from “channel delivery” (print, online) to audience (consumer, enterprise, and community media), and appointed three new heads of those operations: Gordon Crovitz, Clare Hart, and John Wilcox, respectively. Recently appointed Dow Jones CEO Richard Zannino is pushing for full integration of the companies’ print and online products. Both the New York Times and the Boston Globe have moved toward greater news operations synergies over the past year, but Dow Jones’ announcement is a more fundamental shift.
Outsell affiliate analyst Ken Doctor sees these tectonic moves in the restructuring:
· It’s Not How You Get Our Product, But Who You Are and What You Need When: Publishing structures have been defined by their end physical product – whether in print or pixels – and then essentially organized backward. The reorg shows that Zannino gets the idea that it is the intended audience that should determine how you produce the goods. Those audiences increasingly don’t want paper or pixels. They want news and info delivered to them as their needs change through the day, over weeks, among different content types, and with easily customizable delivery options (made more interesting as mobile news and information goes mainstream).
- The Umbrella of Like Brands Is More Important Than the Individual Brands: The Wall Street Journal. WSJOnline. Barron's. Now MarketWatch. These are all great brands, and each has served distinct but overlapping audiences. Seeing these brands as contributors to a whole unleashes much potential power, especially at a time when Time Warner has bundled all its business-oriented brands into CNN Money.com. Most importantly, online is no longer a stepchild product or brand.
- Advertising Alignment Gets Real: Such print/online alignment is a matter of both bringing advertisers coordinated, across-media solutions and making the selling process more efficient.
- News 24/7 for All Readers: Paul Steiger, the Wall Street Journal’s well-respected managing editor, now heads all editorial operations. It’s a tough mandate, but Steger has the clout and now the responsibility to turn one of the world’s best newsgathering operations into a true real-time newsroom.
- Real-time Reuse of Business Content Within the Enterprise and Within Media Is Now a Central Dow Jones Business: All publishers have been focused heavily on that first publication in or on their owned properties, aiming at their first deadline, and then doing what they can to make money on reuse. Dow Jones' new focus on enterprise means the company understands more clearly that the second and all subsequent uses are the moneymakers in a short-, medium-, and long-tail Internet world. For Dow Jones, a major opportunity should be in bringing WSJOnline, now purely consumer-facing, into the enterprise in ways that uniquely satisfy industry needs and forge powerful internal information/research machines.
As a company, Dow Jones ranks No. 83 in the Outsell 100(SM), swimming in place while many of its publisher colleagues have fallen back. Gannett, Tribune, Knight Ridder, and the New York Times Co. have all dropped from 21 to 38 places over the last three years. Zannino’s move is clearly a recognition that the time to move is now, if the race is to be won.
One clear winner in the restructuring is Clare Hart, who comes back to Dow Jones from her industry-leading post as Factiva CEO. Hart has been praised both for her understanding of audiences – initiating a market-facing restructuring within Factiva – and for her ability to execute, often ahead of her competitors at LexisNexis and Dialog. Unclear in the announcement is how the new DJ enterprise push will affect Factiva, which it owns 50-50 with Reuters. The key here: aligning the DJ enterprise business in whatever way makes the most sense for DJ and Factiva customers, so that their news-based research experience flows as seamlessly as possible. Hart will become chairperson of Factiva.
Another winner is Gordon Crovitz, longtime WSJ journalist, who has been heading Electronic Publishing. Electronic Publishing now extracts more than $500 million in revenue from its 768,000 subscribers and related ad sales. The Journal’s paid Web site has long been an anomaly in the newspaper world, owing much to its expensability by business customers. It has been challenged, however, by the same low usage – in frequency and duration – that has dogged news publishers online. The launch of the personalizable mywsj.com, due in late March, is one step in making the site more of a daily essential in its subscribers’ lives and winning back time share from GYM (Google, Yahoo!, MSN). The challenge for Crovitz will be his ability to make the new partnership with Steiger work in a way that no American dailies have yet achieved. That means re-thinking newsgathering, newswriting, and the real-time addition of visuals to news reports. It also means rethinking how technology and production can be best and most cost-effectively harnessed in a combined print/digital world.
Dow Jones’ latest moves recognize challenges from other players who have been upping the ante in the business news world. Time Warner’s announcement in January that CNN Money would encompass Fortune, Small Business Fortune, Money, and Business 2.0 was one competitive warning shot. Conde Nast’s new business magazine (planned for 2007) is another. Yahoo! Finance and MSN Money wait in the wings, with potent market shares and the ability to build on them from a Web-centric point of view. The Associated Press is pursuing a user-centric and integrated news operations strategy similar to Dow Jones’, but does not have Dow Jones’ end-to-end supply chain. AP relies primarily on its member newspaper companies for the “final mile and final click” delivery to its customers.