Wall St Journal to launch new format with fewer sections

Move comes as New York Times reports steep decline in print advertising revenues

News Corp's Wall Street Journal will launch a new format for the newspaper with fewer sections on November 14th, Gerald Baker, the editor-in-chief, told employees in a memo on Wednesday.

“We must move to create a print edition that can stand on a sound financial footing for the foreseeable future while our digital horizons continue to expand,” Mr Baker said in the memo reviewed by Reuters.

“As I previously mentioned, there will unfortunately need to be an elimination of some positions in the process,” he added.

A spokeswoman for Dow Jones, which oversees Wall Street Journal, declined to comment.


The move came as the New York Times reported a steep decline in print advertising revenue for the third quarter, adding to the newspaper industry's woes.

For the quarter, print advertising revenue fell 19 per cent, driving an 8 per cent decline in total advertising revenue.

The drop followed a 14 per cent decline in print advertising revenue in the second quarter.

Digital advertising revenue, however, which now represents 36 per cent of the company’s advertising revenue, increased 21 per cent in the quarter, to $44 million, a welcome relief for the company after a decline in digital advertising last quarter.

The Times also added 116,000 net digital-only subscriptions for its news products during the quarter, bringing its total to 1.3 million. Including crossword product subscriptions, it has about 1.6 million digital-only subscribers.

Circulation revenue increased 3 per cent, to $217 million, as digital-only subscription revenue rose 16 percent, to $59 million.

Total revenue for the quarter fell 1 per cent, to $364 million from $367 million in the same period last year.

"This quarter proved yet again that The New York Times has a very compelling digital revenue story to tell," Mark Thompson, the company's chief executive, said in an earnings release.

He added: “The quarter was also marked by real pressure on print advertising both for us and for the rest of the industry. We expect print advertising to remain challenged in the fourth quarter and while we will continue innovating and investing where we think it makes sense, we will remain focused on our cost structure and on rapidly growing our digital business.”

Adjusted operating profit, the company’s preferred method for assessing performance, fell to $39 million, from $48 million in the same quarter a year earlier. The Times took a $2.9 million charge related to the closing of its Paris editing and prepress operations and had an additional $13 million in severance costs.

Print advertising revenue, which once sustained newspaper companies, has been falling in the industry for years. But the pace of the decline has accelerated, and digital advertising and other forms of revenue have not yet bridged the gap.

As print advertising revenue continues to plummet, companies including The Times, Gannett and Dow Jones have had to cut back. Buyouts and layoffs, along with aggressive reorganizations, have happened or are looming in newsrooms across the country.

Earlier this year, The Times began a sweeping review of its newsroom to determine how to transform it for a digital age. The resulting report is expected to be released in some form in the next few weeks.

At the same time, The Times has aggressively pursued new revenue opportunities.

Last week, it announced it had acquired the product recommendation site The Wirecutter and its sibling, The Sweethome. And on Tuesday, it introduced a virtual reality video project called The Daily 360.

Through a partnership with Samsung, which provided the cameras and equipment, The Times will produce at least one video a day for Times platforms, including its mobile and virtual reality apps.

Times journalists, including correspondents and photographers, will create the videos, and two full-time employees are dedicated to the project.