Newspapers continue to feel the squeeze in the face of declining circulation, newsstand sales and print advertising revenues. On Wednesday, two of the country’s most prestigious dailies, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, addressed the need to reorient their businesses to today’s digital media landscape.
The Journal, which is amid buyouts, circulated a memo to staff regarding its latest restructuring, which will include combining departments. It will also relaunch a “refreshed” print edition — a tactic employed by many in the print media industry as a means to attract readers — that will debut on Nov. 14.
“All newspapers face structural challenges and 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,” said Wall Street Journal editor in chief Gerard Baker. “As I previously mentioned, there will unfortunately need to be an elimination of some positions as part of this process. But I want to stress that these changes and their ramifications for the newsroom are necessary not just because we must adjust to changing conditions in the print advertising business, but because we know from audience research that readers want a more digestible newspaper.”
In terms of consolidations, the paper will create a combined Business & Finance section made up of the current Business & Tech and Money & Investing sections.
Personal Journal and Arena will be combined in a section called Life & Arts and will be included in the main news section of the paper every day from Monday to Friday. The new part of the A section will also feature the cultural commentary and criticism written by the Editorial Page’s team that currently appears in Personal Journal and Arena.
Greater New York coverage, a Rupert Murdoch machination, will be reduced in size and will also move into the main section of the paper in the New York region. The company said the new approach in print will allow it to “produce a more concise, focused daily report on life and business in the New York area.”
Lastly, the paper will continue to publish Journal Reports on Mondays and Mansion — a major revenue generator from real estate — on Fridays as separate sections. The paper will now comprise three sections on those days and two larger sections on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. The Saturday paper will remain as it is, with the main news section, Business & Finance, Review and Off Duty, as well as WSJ magazine.
Meanwhile, The New York Times — also in the process of buyouts and layoffs — released third-quarter earnings that showed a 95.7 percent decline in profits to $406,000 versus income of $9.6 million a year earlier. Adjusted earnings per share totaled 6 cents. Revenue declined 1 percent to $363.5 million, pulled down by a 19 percent dip in print advertising revenue. Analysts expected EPS of 4 cents on revenue of $365 million.
Overall, advertising revenues fell 7.7 percent to $124.9 million, but digital advertising, which represents 36 percent of the company’s advertising revenue, rose 21 percent to $44.4 million. On the bright side, circulation revenue grew 2.9 percent to $217.1 million.
The Times’ president and chief executive officer Mark Thompson said: “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.”