WSJ managing editor Robert Thomson announced that the newspaper — which has recently been crowing about having the largest circulation in the country (if you count online subscribers) — is shutting down its Boston bureau. Nine reporters will lose their jobs, and that's rotten. But the memo he sent out to the newsroom, and first obtained by Fishbowl's Amanda Ernst, says that while no other bureaus are slated for closure, other "unthinkable" changes may be coming to the Journal.
Today we told our team in Boston that we are closing the bureau in its present form. The economic background to the closure is painfully obvious to us all. An investigative function will remain in Boston, but the core reporting team will be disbanded, though all nine reporters affected will certainly be able to apply for openings elsewhere on the paper. Coverage of the Boston mutual fund industry will switch to the Money and Investing team and we are creating an enhanced New York-based education team.
Any such decision inevitably stirs apprehension and uncertainty, but there are no plans, nascent or otherwise, to close any other U.S. or international bureau. Meanwhile, the Newswires bureau and the MarketWatch team in Boston will remain at their present staffing levels.
That there has been truly great reporting under the generalship of Gary Putka out of Boston over many, many years is not in doubt. But we remain in the midst of a profound downturn in advertising revenue and thus must think the unthinkable.