Home is where the growth is: WSJ’s Thomson
Global strategy aside, Dow Jones Editor-in-Chief Robert Thomson sees a growth opportunity right here on his home turf. With regional U.S. papers laying off staff and scaling back business coverage, Thomson sees a “real opportunity for another paper to come in.”
And yes, that would be The Wall Street Journal. “What we’re noticing in markets like Chicago, LA and Miami… big city markets with papers that are changing, there are real opportunities to bring new readers to print as well as online,” Thomson said at the Reuters Media Summit in New York.
We asked him how exactly the WSJ hopes to wean readers — the intelligent, educated consumer of business news that Thomson said there’s an abundance of right now in the United States — away from other dailies, but the former Times of London editor offered no more details. “We’re planning,” is all he would say.
“Those papers have been particularly hard hit by declines in classified advertising,” Thomson said. Also, many of these city dailies were slow to adapt to the changes in the information environment and are suffering from serious revenue and circulation declines for a host of reasons, he said. “There’s an opportunity there.”
So would Dow Jones, which Rupert Murdoch bought last year, be interested in buying a regional rival? “That’s a very enticing proposition but not one we’re thinking about… We’re not planning to buy any papers, but if you ask me, newspapers have been ridiculously oversold.”
He said community newspapers that have a strong web presence and a complementary print presence will do well, although no one’s a close-enough competitor to the Journal. Not even the New York Times.
“We’re twice as big as the New York Times,” Thomson said. “We’re getting larger and they’re getting smaller. If there’s a competition, only one person is winning.”