The Wall Street Journal Shakes Things Up With a Newsroom Reorg

"Eventually it’s time to tear down the old structure and build a new one,” writes EIC Gerard Baker

The Wall Street Journal today announced a newsroom reorganization designed to align the publication with mobile-first goals. The reorganization includes a promotion for deputy editor in chief Matt Murray, who has been named executive editor.

It also creates a number of new senior-lever positions including chief news editor, news planning editor, analytics and audience editor and an editor for digital content strategy. Many of the roles are designed with the idea of pushing the publication into the digital age, and are a response to parent company Dow Jones’ WSJ2020 review, which is exploring both cost-cutting and innovation opportunities for the publication.

“Our news operations have been somewhat like an elegant and rather gorgeous stately home, whose owners have steadily augmented and renovated, rewiring every now and then, adding a new plumbing system, repainting, refurbishing,” wrote editor in chief Gerard Baker in a memo to staff. “But eventually it’s time to tear down the old structure and build a new one.”

As for whether job cuts were implied in the reorg plans, here is how Journal reporter Lukas I. Alpert laid out the situation:

In a memo to staff, Mr. Baker said the “far-reaching reorganization” wasn’t a “job-cutting exercise” and that the newsroom’s head count of about 1,300 positions would remain “roughly stable.”

As resources dramatically shift toward digital and mobile initiatives, some existing roles could be eliminated, forcing some people to find other positions within the company.

The publication did cut jobs earlier this year in its Asia and Europe bureaus. Incidentally, Alpert reports that the Journal will be reducing print operations there.

This announcement comes on the heels of an announcement earlier this week focused on a different kind of hiring issue–addressing the publication’s diversity and gender imbalance, especially in newsroom leadership roles, as well as the gender pay gap.

“Based on work already underway and the efforts of our new diversity and inclusion expert, I will also set a new, company-wide target of executive-level women for every Dow Jones department. As things stand, I will set this target at 40% initially. This will be the first of a number of diversity goals I will identify,” wrote Dow Jones CEO William Lewis in a memo to staff. The reorg is a good opportunity to work toward those goals.

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