What does News Corp.'s pending split mean for Dow Jones?
By Sean Callahan
It has been an eventful 30 days for Dow Jones & Co. and its flagship newspaper, The Wall Street Journal.
The big news, of course, was the announcement last week that Dow Jones' parent company, News Corp., plans to split into two separate public companies sometime within the next 12 months. In addition to being a part of that blockbuster announcement, Dow Jones in recent weeks has also made sweeping executive changes, converted SmartMoney into a digital-only product and sold its FINS.com online career marketplace to Dice Holdings.
Ken Doctor, news analyst for Outsell Inc., said all the moves are in keeping with what he sees as Dow Jones' ultimate strategy. “WSJ, the brand, is a global brand; and in going global, it is becoming more of a digital brand,” he said.
Dow Jones declined to make any executives available to comment for this story.
The news that will likely have the greatest long-term impact on Dow Jones is the splitting of News Corp. Rupert Murdoch's company plans to divide itself into a media and an entertainment company (comprising such businesses as Fox News Channel and 20th Century Fox) and a publishing company (consisting of publishing company HarperCollins, Dow Jones, The (London) Times, New York Post and other newspapers).
However the naming last month of Alisa Bowen, who was general manager of the Wall Street Journal Digital Network, to head of product for Dow Jones will have a more immediate impact on the direction of Dow Jones and the Journal. The move, Doctor said, indicates a continued emphasis on digital.
While Bowen was promoted, others tied to the pre-Murdoch era left the company. Todd Larsen, who joined Dow Jones in 1999, stepped down as its president. Scott Schulman, another longtime Dow Jones executive, resigned as president of Dow Jones Corporate Markets.
In addition to big management changes, Dow Jones announced that personal finance magazine SmartMoney will move to an all-digital format later this summer.
In another move, Dow Jones sold the assets of FINS.com, its online career site, to Dice Holdings, which creates specialized career websites for professional communities. As part of the deal, Dice Holdings will operate the online career centers for WSJ.com and MarketWatch.com.
Doctor speculated as to whether the new publishing company would be a candidate for another split in a year's time. He said Dow Jones and the Journal—whose natural competitors include Bloomberg, Pearson's Financial Times and Thompson Reuters—don't appear to fit in a company that includes tabloids such as the Sun and New York Post.
“They're not business and they're not global,” Doctor said of the tabloids.