Estoril, Portugal – In June, the 70th World News Media Congress met to discuss how international institutions, tech entrepreneurs and news businesses can work together to preserve the values of a healthy and independent press. At the conference, Jonathan Wright, global managing director at Dow Jones and The Wall Street Journal, discussed his company’s global strategies.
Wright helped to steer Dow Jones, owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, to three million global subscribers, a landmark announced in April. The company’s products include Dow Jones Newswires, Financial News, Barron’s, Factiva and MarketWatch.
In Portugal, Wright discussed the importance of quality content, strategic regional partnerships, paywall strategies, membership models and the development of diverse advertising revenue streams. “Our industry is massively changing and data and technology advances are driving structural changes,” Wright said. “However, the core of our business starts with the customer as the center, and we build from there.”
Among Dow Jones’ recent initiatives is a partnership with Canada’s Torstar newspapers. “We’ve looked to partner globally with like-minded partners from airlines to media partners. We are taking our events out of the U.S. into other countries. We have a better chance of survival if we work together,” Wright said.
News & Tech asked Wright about Dow Jones’ global vision for the future.
N&T:What technology doesDow Joneshaveonits radar?
Wright: Technology and data sit at the heart of our organization. The use of technology in our newsroom operations to enhance storytelling is an area of particular focus. For example, WSJ readers have been enjoying in-depth storytelling brought to life with virtual reality technology. Dow Jones employs innovative technology across other parts of the business too. For example, The Wall Street Journal was one of the first outlets of its kind to implement a paywall, over 20 years ago. We employ a specially designed data-driven, dynamic paywall which measures a number of variables relating to potential subscribers.This in turn helps us to understand their propensity to become full subscribers.
N&T: What is Dow Jones’ biggest challenge in the next five years?
Wright: During the last decade Dow Jones and The Wall Street Journal have been at the forefront of the debate around technology platforms that have looked to commoditize news and whose very business models threaten the future of professional journalism. Whilst we are seeing some interesting developments, this battle will continue to be one of our biggest challenges and highest priorities in the coming years. We feel strongly that professional journalism has a crucial role to play in society and we will continue our mission to provide our readers with fair and balanced reporting, whilst executing on business models that secure the future of professional journalism.
N&T: How do you plan to promote professional journalism over fake news?
Wright: Where you get your news from has never been more important. If you look at our subscriber and membership numbers, we are seeing a clear flight to quality news. In addition, trust in social media platforms has seen a dip in recent years. The prevalence of social media as a publishing platform has raised question marks over the quality and provenance of certain news. However, a recent study from the Reuters Institute outlined a fall in the number of people using social media to get their news. Edelman’s annual Trust Barometer this year showed a rebound in trust in relation to journalism. These are encouraging signs.
N&T: What global trend are you watching?
Wright: One of the key challenges for any publisher is how to properly fund professional journalism. Developing in-depth stories, video feature development and investment in newsroom technologies is a costly exercise.The publishing sector used to drive a lot of this investment revenue from advertising. Whilst this is still a crucially important pillar for WSJ, we are also looking at other models to support quality news gathering. Paywall strategies and membership models sit at the core of our response to this new dynamic and many other publishers are now following our lead.
N&T: What criteria do you use to form a partnership and what industries work for partnership or diversification?
Wright: We have successfully developed strategic partnerships with multiple organizations in multiple geographies. When we explore potential partnerships, we would generally look to develop a strategic relationship with organizations that have similar values and aspirations to ours around growth, engagement, value of content and the importance of the customer. Recent partnerships include publishers, telcosandanairline,sowereallydolook across all sectors.
A good example being a deal we recently concluded with Caijing Media in China, who, will be launching a Chinese language Barron’s franchise in China.We also recently announced our partnership withTorstar in Canada which will enhance their fantastic domestic content with WSJ’s award winning global coverage and support the launch of the premium paywall offering scheduled for September.
N&T: How does the print newspaper fit into your global strategy?
Wright: Print is still a tremendously important part of our core offering. In the U.S., our print product is still a critical part of our relationship with readers, and Japan is another very strong print market. Globally, the WSJ Magazine is now one of the most widely read print lifestyle magazines of its kind and our Mansion Global business recently launched a glossy new real estate focused print magazine. The general global trend is seeing print products challenged both in terms of circulation and advertising revenue. However, we know our customers well and we also know that for premium print products, there are subscribers and advertisers who value the platform and can commercially support it.