WSJ Publisher: We'll Have The Best-Paid Journalists

WSJ publisher Gordon Crovitz steps in for a Q&A with Staci Kramer at the FOBM. You’ll never guess what the first question is…will go free?

Gordon, as he always does, notes that News Corp. deal isn’t done. But again offers to explain thinking behind what he calls the “hybrid model”: 1M paid subs, 10M unique visitors. Another (? Or does he mean aggregate?) 17M at other DJ properties (Marketwatch, Barrons, etc). So WSJ, and Dow Jones have never just been a paid model.

We have 400M pageviews, lots of opportunity to sell. Subscription is a profitable business: Incremental cost of sub is minimal. And makes paper more valuable: 15% of paper subs used to have online Journal, now about a third. And almost every new WSJ sub now gets the online subscription as well. Dow Jones generating more than $500M annually from paid subscriptions if you include Factiva, etc. Anyway, we’re still thinking it through. [Again, we think this has been a done deal for a long time].

A history lesson, which includes the purchase of Marketwatch in 2005. At the time, you couldn’t get realtime market data without Bloomberg, Reuters sub, etc. 7.5M uniques at Marketwatch, large percentage of pageviews. Taught rest of DJ “an awful lot” about how integrate video and audio with text. How’s that Marketwatch inventory selling? Gordon’s pitch: We reach more than 20M wealthy consumers across the country; that aggregation helps us a lot.

Murdoch talked about “verticals” recently: What does that mean for WSJ? Well, there’s blogs: Gordon offers a shoutout to my former Forbes colleague Peter Lattman, who now runs WSJ Law Blog. We’ll have more capital to try more things like that.

Integrating sales staff, News Corp. will integrate that. Dow Jones is a midsized company, News Corp. is a huge company with lots of resources. Staci worries that she’ll lose access to data that DJ used to provide, Gordon says not worry. Rafat wants to know how much WSJ writers will make (us too!) under News Corp. Good news for WSJ union: Gordon says WSJ will have the best, and the best paid journalists in the industry. Murdoch has expressed “great ambitions” for the WSJ and he expects significant investment.

What’s going to happen with WSJ/CNBC/FoxBusiness? We’ll still live up to our contractual obligation with CNBC.

Rich Greenfield: Why partner with Yahoo, Google, MSN etc and have them make money selling your content? Gordon: We’re happy to work with other distributors to drive traffic back and forth. We have best brands in business and finance, and we have what AOL, MSN, Yahoo etc don’t have: Journalists. That cuts both ways, since they cost money (see above!), so we have to figure out how to make that work via “creative traffic agreements”.

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