News Corp is carrying out a major reorganization at its Dow Jones news publishing unit that will involve substantial job cuts and shifting of resources into digital media efforts and core coverage areas.
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In a memo to staff on Thursday, Gerard Baker, editor in chief of Dow Jones and The Wall Street Journal, said the purpose of the moves was a "full transformation of our newsroom with a bold but simple aim: to become the premier digital news organization in the world." He added, "This process will require us to discontinue some of our activities while investing more in others."
The company will eliminate a few dozen positions Thursday, and will continue the reductions in coming weeks and months, a person familiar with the situation said. The eventual cuts could total well over 100, the person said.
At the same time, Dow Jones plans to beef up hiring in certain areas such as mobile offerings, interactive graphics and data-driven journalism. And it will invest in areas that top executives perceive as core coverage, such as economics and markets, while scaling back some global operations and other coverage areas.
As part of the changes, Dow Jones will close bureaus in Prague and Helsinki and reduce staff in other bureaus in Europe and Asia, Mr. Baker said in the memo. A Bahasa Indonesia website will be closed, the small- business coverage group will be eliminated and several blogs will be shuttered. The company will also scale back its personal finance team.
The ultimate effect of all the moves on headcount isn't clear. Dow Jones has already downsized its editorial personnel considerably in recent years. Five years ago, the company had some 2,100 editorial staffers in the unit that includes the Journal and Dow Jones Newswires and it currently has about 1,800. Overall, Dow Jones�which includes the Journal, Dow Jones Newswires, Barron's, Marketwatch, Factiva, Financial News and a number of professional business units�has around 5,000 employees in total.
The move by Dow Jones is the latest sign of how traditional news organizations are racing to transform themselves to seek out growth in the digital marketplace, while cutting costs to account for declines in print advertising as readers migrate online.
Late last year, the New York Times eliminated about 100 jobs through buyouts and layoffs, around 7.5% of the paper's total staff. It has since continued to hire, with a focus on graphic artists, video producers and digitally focused staff, and its overall headcount is currently around 1,300, or roughly where it was before the cuts, a spokeswoman said. USA Today, the largest circulating daily newspaper in the U.S., cut 8% of its staff, or about 70 people, last fall.
In the quarter ended March 31, News Corp reported a steep decline in net profit and a 1% slip in revenue, largely driven by unfavorable foreign- exchange fluctuations and lower advertising revenue at its news and information services unit. Revenue at the unit, which comprises the newspaper holdings in Britain, Australia and the U.S., fell 9% in the quarter as advertising revenue dropped 12% and circulation and subscription revenue fell 6%.
At the Journal, ad revenue declined 11% year-on-year in the quarter, but the company said it expected improvements in the quarter that ends June 30.
Since the start of 2015, Dow Jones had already laid off close to 100 unionized employees in the U.S. and Canada�almost entirely in the company's sales divisions�but had hired around 125 new staffers in their place, for a net gain in employment, according to the Independent Association of Publisher's Employees union.
Also on Thursday, News Corp announced that it would start paying out a semiannual dividend for the first time since the company separated from 21st Century Fox and that it had extended for three years a shareholder-rights plan, or "poison pill," to fend off any possible takeover attempts.
Write to Lukas I. Alpert at email@example.com
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