The Wall Street Journal is still reorganizing its newsroom and editors are taking the brunt of it.
Members of The Journal’s deep bench of desk editors have been asked to “reapply” for their positions, WWD has learned, as the News Corp.-owned title continues to lurch forward with plans to be more of a digital-first publication.
Many desk editors at The Journal have been at the paper for several years, according to some online profiles, and having them reapply for their positions, while demeaning, is a way to move people around or to different positions — or move them out. Although it’s unclear if anyone has indeed been laid off entirely, or chose to leave rather than reapply for a position, it’s understood that the reapplication process was open, with others in the newsroom welcome to throw their figurative hats in the ring. Those editors that didn’t get to keep their former editing postings have been or will be offered another role, a process that’s set to wrap up this week. Whether they accept those positions is up to them.
In an internal memo from late April, editor in chief Gerard Baker characterized the changes as a continuation of The Journal’s “WSJ 2020” reorganization plan around digital and mobile, and reiterated that alterations to editing roles and processes “are not an exercise in cost-cutting or in reducing the number — or value — of editors.” Instead, he said the changes are in favor of “efficiency and cohesion,” as well as a “new central editing structure.”
The Journal is said to have something of a baroque system of editing, a holdover from print-driven days of yore, with even daily web stories said to often go through multiple editors. This seems an effort to change that. There will now be four editing groups charged with publishing and creating content under their purview: newswires led by Glenn Hall; print led by Tim Layer; digital platforms led by Jenn Hicks, and publishing led by Lex Kaptik, which will have something of an oversight role for the three new editing sections.
Baker added in his April memo that editors were to be informed more fully of the changes and said the goal was to be “minimally disruptive.” He invited everyone to “apply for positions in the new structure.”
In last year’s memo on the reorganization strategy, which coincided with changes to senior leadership, Baker noted that workflow in the newsroom was being looked at and hinted at a need to “develop the right process for digital delivery.” But even before that, the paper was making changes. In February 2017, it cut down on its fashion and culture coverage and ended several related columns. In 2016, amid buyouts, it began consolidating sections, like Business & Tech and Money & Investing.
A spokeswoman for The Journal stressed that the reapplication process was a “reallocation of resources.” Editors at The Journal do not have union representation. Reporting staff, which doesn’t seem to be going through the same process, is represented by NewsGuild.
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