The Wall Street Journal — now for ‘professionals’

October 21, 2009

The Wall Street Journal, ever on the hunt for new ways to please its readers and new ways to make money (and what, we ask, is wrong with that?), will launch a new, pricier version this November. Called “The Wall Street Journal Professional Edition,” it is designed for business readers who want more than what the daily newspaper and website provide on their own.

Essentially, it is the Journal’s daily offering, with reports from Dow Jones Newswires and a reservoir of news and information from Factiva, the news archive that Dow Jones owns — and a bunch more stuff:

  • Information from more than 17,000 global sources, some of which are not available to the public.
  • A one-year archive of Factiva’s global business sources and a two-year archive of wsj.com content.
  • More than 30 industry pages, managed by Dow Jones editors
  • Six industry sections managed by Journal editors who select news and information for readers on pharmaceuticals, healthcare, energy, media and marketing, telecommunications and technology.
  • Personalized homepages and news alerts for when things break.

Dow Jones plans to sell the edition to businesses, which would make it available to employees through “site licenses” (ie, your business buys a license that makes the professional edition available to X number of people for a price to be determined). In January, it will be available to people for $49 a month, or just under $600 a year, said Clare Hart, head of Dow Jones’s Enterprise Media Group, which oversees Dow Jones Newswires, Factiva and Dow Jones Indexes.

So why have a professional edition for a paper that is arguably already for professionals? According to Hart, it is an attempt to recognize the middle ground between “regular” readers (like my mom) and financial clients who use the super-charged “terminals” from Thomson Reuters and Bloomberg that provide news along with sophisticated and deep financial information.

“It’s a response to what customers are driving us toward. Customers want the simplicity of a consumer application with the sophistication of an enterprise application,” Hart said.

Robert Thomson, who edits the Journal and oversees Dow Jones’s editorial operations, offered a hypothetical example of an oil service company employee in Boise who might not be in the market for a Bloomberg or Thomson Reuters computer, but needs more information than he or she would get in the paper.

“You’re interested in oil import prices, you’re interested in currencies,” Thomson said. “To be honest, it would be hard to find you as a client on the professional end.” With WSJ’s professional edition, he said, that employee could customize a feed that would send an alert when something happens in China that affects oil prices.

On another level, the Journal is trying to capture readers for whom paper is not enough, while financial professional-grade data feeds offer too much at too high a price, and don’t look all that pleasing to the eye. The information that readers get would be more sophisticated, but presented in an easy-to-view way, just like the Journal or the Times or most other news outlets present it to readers on their Web pages now.

It sounds like a promising introduction and an effective way to give readers a more comprehensive look at Dow Jones’s information offerings than they might have gotten before. But how will it play? Company officials won’t share projections.

It might be that Dow Jones, now part of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, already has a bunch of happy customers who don’t need to be made happier. It’s hard to say how many untapped readers there might be for this new service, either through business licenses or through individual subscriptions. If nothing else, it’s an experiment done at a time when news outlets need to experiment even more than they are.

(Photo: Reuters)

3 comments

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[...] Dow Jones is looking to wring a few more dollars from the Wall Street Journal’s brand, offering up a “professional version” of the Journal’s site to businesses at $49 per month, or $600 a year, Robert MacMillan at Reuters reports. [...]

Nobody with any sense reads this biased thing anyway, so renaming it won’t bring the circus to town folks.

Posted by Frank | Report as abusive

[...] of the paper there is now the introduction of the Professional Edition according to a report from Reuters. The Wall Street Journal, ever on the hunt for new ways to please its readers and new ways to make [...]

I got an e-mail from a reader who prefers not to be named, but makes some interesting points. The comment speaks for itself, but I’ll add one thought anyway: I should have known more about Idaho’s natural resources.Here it is:I hope it works, but if Robert Thomson is looking for oil-service guys in Boise, it could be a long, lonely quest. There’s essentially no oil-and-gas industry in Idaho. Lots of hydro. A fair amount of geothermal. Maybe even a little coal. But to find petroleum guys, you’ve got to go either north to Alberta or southeast to Colorado.Wrong state.One one level, it’s an inconsequential blurring of details. Robert explained his concept just fine. But on another level, it speaks to how hard it is to build niche expertise from a generalist base. The WSJ’s great strength is its ability to make business news lucid and relevant to the widest possible audience. That’s fundamentally different from providing ultra-precise, expensive bulletins to various handfuls of insiders. What’s more, Bloomberg, Thomson Reuters and others are deeply entrenched in the best niches. As you pointed out.Anyway, at least the News Corp. guys are trying something. Hope it works.Nice story.

[...] of the paper there is now the introduction of the Professional Edition according to a report from Reuters. The Wall Street Journal, ever on the hunt for new ways to please its readers and new ways to make [...]

content is king… always has been … always will be…. #johngaltwashere

Posted by ragnaar | Report as abusive

[...] this will be, but it’s worth noting that Robert MacMillan, writing on the Reuters blog, says that this month will see the Wall Street Journal begin offering a ‘Professional [...]