In recent years The Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones have undertaken a number of important initiatives that have brought big changes and new talents to our newsroom, including the creation of the managing editor’s office, the revamped structure of the Pro team, the launch of Newswires Hubs in Barcelona and Singapore, the creation of the print desk and the upgrading of the visuals and video/audio teams.
Significantly, we have done this while upping the reach and impact of our journalism and even as we have expanded into new platforms and formats—and as the number of subscribers has hit an all-time high.
To keep growing, there is much more to do for us to become a fully successful digital news organization. As Will noted at the Dow Jones roadshows, for all the progress we have made, our digital products and experiences must improve substantially?to better serve our readers and ensure our future.
And so today I am announcing several important steps to accelerate our digital development and place our digital products and experiences at the heart of the newsroom.
Louise Story will take on an expanded remit and a newly created senior role as our Chief News Strategist and Chief Product & Technology Officer. Louise will oversee a newly structured, expanded department that will blend members of the strategy and audience teams she has assembled with the product/design/engineering team. She will co-report to me and to Dow Jones Group Chief Product and Technology Officer Ramin Beheshti. Please join us in congratulating her and thanking her for taking on such a role so critical to our future.
In little more than a year since she joined the Journal, Louise has had an outsized impact on the newsroom and assembled a powerhouse team. The strategy and PDE team leads who have worked with Louise — overseeing areas including technology, product, design, new audiences, young audiences, programming strategy, innovation and data science — have become important leaders at the Journal with exceptional backgrounds in journalism, technology and innovation.
Combining these once-separate functions into a new department that bridges news and the rest of the company will ensure that strategy, audience insights and product sit together right at the center of the Journal and Dow Jones and will be far more closely aligned. Louise also will continue to work closely with the Membership team and across Dow Jones, with the group aligned with the company’s goals of widening reach and improving daily habit of engaging with the Journal.
As we launch the new department, we are making permanent several roles that have evolved in the last several months:
—Dion Bailey will become VP, head of WSJ technology and architecture;
—Kabir Seth’s job will broaden as head of operations and strategy within the expanded department;
?–John Schimmel will become a?VP of engineering to continue overseeing a large base of our engineers alongside VP of engineering Mike Finkel, who plays a critical role overseeing our engineering teams.
The entire leadership team in the new group is impressive and accomplished. I invite everyone to come to a presentation from the team at 10.30 am Thursday in the Impact?conference room on the 9th floor.
We also will be posting key new roles, including: a head of design; a content experiences engineering team; and roles to oversee product for our platforms, content experiences, engagement experiences and more. The new structure provides a foundation for growing our engineering teams going forward.
Lastly, we will be posting new jobs for strategy editors to work with each coverage area in the newsroom. We recently shared our plans to move?most news editing functions to new coverage hubs that are closer to reporting and visual teams. As we build those hubs in the coming months, these strategy editors will join each coverage area to work hand-in-glove with editors and reporters on the important work of rethinking our journalism for the future.
We are seeking internal and external candidates who have strong backgrounds in reporting and/or editing as well as strong knowledge of multiple mediums and digital-first thinking.
As we gear up, we also will undertake two important tasks in the new year. Louise and her team, working closely with the senior team, will oversee a thorough review of our multiple strategic efforts across the newsroom and prepare a full, comprehensive strategic roadmap. And in each coverage area we will undertake a close, data-driven review of our output and performance.
It’s important to underscore that while Louise and her team will set and drive our newsroom and product strategy, our success won’t all rest on their shoulders. Moving forward, and engaging fully, is on all of us. It will be exciting, fun–and at times uncomfortable.? Each one of us must challenge ourselves and our ways of thinking. While we have made real progress, too often our institutional reflex is a shrug and dismiss, saying: “That’s not how the Journal does things.” Enough of that. It is time to be much smarter about audience data and needs, to build a more innovative newsroom, to not just create but regularly deploy new story formats and to create a more experimental and collaborative culture.
Happily, we launch these new efforts from a position of strength, with a great team of leaders, the most talented staff in our history and a fantastic run of journalism. We can all be confident this is the right moment to propel ourselves forward and embrace what lies ahead with enthusiasm. More to come.