Wall Street Journal editor Robert Thomson urged his charges to work faster. To underline the point, some system that feeds WSJ stories to Dow Jones Newswires will now be called "URGENT" instead of "Speedy."
There is no doubt that co-operation between Newswires and Journal
journalists has improved markedly over the past year, but true
fraternity remains more nascent than mature. Our structure must
complement the needs of all Dow Jones readers and reflect the
contemporary value of what is crudely called "content". A breaking
corporate, economic or political news story is of crucial value to our
Newswires subscribers, who are being relentlessly wooed by less worthy
competitors. Even a headstart of a few seconds is priceless for a
commodities trader or a bond dealer – that same story can be
repurposed for a range of different audiences, but its value
diminishes with the passing of time.
Given that revenue reality, henceforth all Journal reporters will
be judged, in significant part, by whether they break news for the
Newswires. This is a fundamental shift in orientation which will also
require a fundamental change in the inaptly named Speedy system.
The Speedy was designed with a simple objective: the urgent
dissemination of breaking news unearthed by WSJ reporters. Apart from
being an important facet of the Newswires service, the system was
intended to enhance the newspaper's reputation as the world's leading
source of financial, business and general news. In the age of
digitally compressed content, the Speedy should have been a defining
advantage for Dow Jones – but, alas, too many of these items were
written in a way which neither made sense to Newswires users nor
maximized the value of the news they sought to convey.
The system is in need of revolution, not reform. We must all think
of ourselves as Dow Jones journalists and, at the least, have some
comprehension of the life-cycle of a news story and its relative worth
to our readers around the world. Not all content demands to be free
and our content, in particular, has a value that is sometimes better
recognised by our readers than our journalists. That we have multiple
opportunities to generate income from this content is in stark
contrast to many other revenue-challenged news organizations, which
have not sold their soul – they have merely given it away.
With these objectives in mind, we are sending Speedy to the
knackery and saddling up a successor, the URGENT. New nomenclature
alone will not generate news, so there must also be basic changes of
principle and practice at the Journal. A guide to the new system will
be published next week and we are aiming to launch on April 15. In
coming days, please raise any relevant issues with your bureau chief
or editor. There is much angst-ridden, vacuous debate about the fate
of American journalism – this is an important practical measure to
secure the long-term future of journalists at Dow Jones.