WSJ Joins the Blogging Crowd

The newest entrants to the blogosphere is none other than the WSJ. They are now running at least two three distinct blogs I know of, with more sure to follow.

Market Beat is so new it does not yet have a permanent address (the last entry can be found here), its a group blog publishing on (you guessed it) Market related issues. The Journal is also publishing Law Blog, which has been up and running since the beginning of the year. Washinton Wire is political analysis out of WSJ’s Capital Bureau.

The URL — — suggests that we are likely to see a more than these two from Dow Jones; I hope they heed my suggestion from last year to turn Dow Jones Market Talk into a blog.

So let’s welcome the Journal to the blogosphere, and use this opportunity to ask them a few questions, as well as offer up some helpful suggestions:

The first question is: Why blog?

That’s a basic query, but its one the Journal needs to ask itself:

-What are our purposes and goals with this project?
-Is it to generate new subscribers? (or stem a potential print subscription decline?)
-Do we hope to sell more advertising?
-Are we trying to attract non-subscribers to Dow Jones properties?
-Do we want to develop a community within our readership?
-Are the blogs merely another product offering for (paying) subscribers of WSJ online?
-What does the WSJ hope to ultimately accomplish with their blogs?

Large companies need to avoid merely jumping onboard the latest hot trend. Having a set of objectives goes a long way towards steering clear of that danger.

If I were in charge of the Dow Jones blog project, I would set (at least) 3 goals: Attract more paying online subscribers, sell more adverts, and generate reader loyalty (despite their regular escape to other sites). That’s a modest set of targets, achievable over time — and measurable, also. 

Here’s the first step:

-Set up one landing page for all of the Dow Jones blogs — WSJ, Barrons, DJ Newswires and Marketwatch;
-Promote the blogs across each of the sites;
-Open the blogs to the public;
-Allow only registered online WSJ subscribers
to comment (thus avoiding spam and junk comments).  Track who posts what and ban "inappropriate" behaviour; Its the WSJ and not Yahoo! Message Boards;

Second, adapt; watch what works, what doesn’t and then make changes.

Third, slowly roll out a network of a 5-10 blogs. The obvious ones come from the Journal’s and Barron’s regular coverage. Consider a few from each column:

Technology Gadgets THE TRADER
Economy Careers THE STRIKING PRICE (Options)
Markets Travel CURRENT YIELD (Bonds)
Politics & Policy Autos COMMODITIES CORNER
U.S. Business Health & Medicine Currency
Media & Marketing Food & Wine Credit Markets
Europe Energy Hedge Funds
Asia Law Earnings

Next, I would incentivize their writers to participate in this. That’s a given if you want them to be a part of this, and I’m sure they can figure out something to make it worth their while (DJ options?).

Further, editors need to recognize that blogging sucks juice away from writing. (Trust me on this one). Anyone working on a book will tell you that either blogging — or their deadline — goes on hiatus. And if you dangle this very addictive junk in front of your reporters, you may be pulling them away from meaningful investigative assignments. Understand what you are asking of your reporters if you want them to participate in this. (I’d love to see an insider editor blog describing his work day).

I’d imagine that out of this list, a few blogs would really gain traction. Focus on those, and use them to promote the weaker sisters. The blogosphere is full of examples of blogs that were unknown for along while and then suddenly blossomed. (Its the equivalent of Arrested Development cancelled by Fox).  Again, it really depends upon what the corporate goal of Dow Jones is with these projects.

In addition to that list above, I’d like to see a senior editor and someone from the business side from Dow Jones Inc. start blogging. An inside publishing kind of thing, looking at the numbers, circulation, advertising, business dealings. Dave Kansas, or someone from the Publishing side. That would be way cool, especially if someone had the charisma and mad skillz to pull it off.

There is a caveat to all this good advice: Don’t do this half-assed. Have the cajones to step up. Be willing to cannibalize yourselves to prevent someone else from doing it anyway. Work outside your comfort zone. Allow your writers to develop a unique voice, some snark. Give them latitude to have a viewpoint. Embrace a new business model that may hurt your present operations, but will ultimately save it 10 years down the road.

How you approach these issues will determine how successful your blogs will be . . .


UPDATE March 8, 2006  11:48am

A few additional thoughts:

They Journal could use a "Blog Evangelist" — someone who is a champion of the blog project  both internally and externally, like Guy Kawasaki was for Apple back in the 1990s.

Also, the NYT — which is due its own Big Picture post on their blogging ventures, and is a few months ahead of the Journal in that — promotes its various blogs in its print pages. I would expect the WSJ to eventually do the same.

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What's been said:

Discussions found on the web:
  1. duncan Robertson commented on Mar 8

    blogging has helped my understand of other people (all kinds) and how they deal with the market; that is the big incentive; to understand more; so you have enough integrity to act big

  2. Jesse Eisinger commented on Mar 8

    The funniest line in your entry is: “DJ options.” Anyone seen the stock of Dow Jones in, say, the past 20 years?

    Thanks for the thoughts, Barry. This is a work in progress as we all feel this out and debate it. Feedback like this is very helpful.

  3. anonymous commented on Mar 8

    Interesting move, but I can’t believe that these new corporate bloggers springing up everywhere can possibly have the the flexibility and honesty to match guys like you Barry.

  4. royce commented on Mar 8

    I don’t see the point in big media blogs. They already have the ability to publish stories on the issues they find important, and if anything they should be doing more reporting than commenting on the news (which is what 95% of blogging is).

  5. B commented on Mar 8

    This topic makes me want to puke. Why? Because I heard something yesterday when the TV was on and it was right down this alley. Corporations are all starting to blog including good ole big brother Wal-mart. Blogging is for individuals in its purest form. It is a release from the concentration of power in the media business. A handful of companies now control nearly all media be it print, online or TV. It wreaks of an ability to manipulate the public. And, in its worst form to be an extension of a government system. Can you say paying people to write positive press in Iraq? If the government will do that, when is our media next? You scoff? Uh huh. I am far from a conspiracy theorist, delusional or paranoid but I see many things today which, if not reversed in the long term, are attacks on our civil liberties. I feel so strongly about this that I even thought of returning to law school to practice on just this topic.

    Corporation blogging is an oxymoron. If those cruds at Walmart or any other big company think they are going to MANIPULATE, and that was the word used on CNBC yesterday by someone who described the corporate push into blogging, they’ve got something else coming. A big kielbasa right from Chicago.

    While the WSJ may be sincere in its efforts, every concentration of power is always sincere in its efforts. The end result is nearly always misguided by the time it is over. The biggest threat to our liberties is concentration of power. And both parties in our political system want it. Not only that, but they foster it within corporate America with their policies………..AT THE EXPENSE of individual liberities. That, my friends, is why you get to work at Walmart or some other $7 an hour shithole when you lose your job. I might read the WSJ and enjoy it, screw the blog. Only individual voices for me. Whew! That gets me going.

  6. Joseph Hosteler commented on Mar 8

    Let’s clarify the two unique aspects of blogging: 1) a publishing tool that’s become free to individuals, and 2) a style of snappy online journalism/content.

    The big players (note the NYT has blogs too now) are launching blogs to do ‘2’. Fine, but ‘1’ is what’s reallly interesting, because it’s enabled so many quality economics/market bloggers out there. That’s where the real value is, in the decentralized blogosphere.

    The WSJ and NYT miss the revolution by trying to centralize it, control it, own it.

    The individual bloggers are already doing their thing out there. Let them go! If they want to harness the power of blogs, the WSJ and NYT et al. should syndicate and edit great blogs like this one on economics and Seeking Alpha for stocks/money management (SA already aggregates and edits, so that value is built-in).

  7. KirkH commented on Mar 8

    They create blogs so that when they hire bloggers the bloggers don’t feel like they’re selling out because they’re still blogging, right?

    They want the eyeballs of the longtail. I’d guess the WSJ, etc. are going to try to hire you and a bunch of other bloggers in the very near future.

  8. Davos Newbies commented on Mar 8

    What should the WSJ do with its blogs?

    Barry Ritholtz gives The Wall Street Journal some valuable advice on its venture into the world of blogs. They could have paid a consultant vast fees for far less than this. Heres a particularly interesting passage, but the whole post is worth a…

  9. Dan Green commented on Mar 8

    The Blogging Success equation is simple: FREQUENCY + RELEVANCE = READERSHIP.

    Anyone care to list the famous “Failed Blogs” taken on by The Man because the winning formula was ignored?

    Okay, I’ll start: Business Week’s Hot Property.

    Dan Green
    The Dan Green Mortgage Team

  10. Businesspundit commented on Mar 10

    WSJ Blogs

    Barry Rithotlz posted a nice analysis of the new Wall Street Journal Blogs. (Law and Washington Wire are available for free). Its about time they got with the program. Its strange, but doesnt it seem like the mainstream media has…

  11. The Big Picture commented on Mar 24

    Blogging Review: NYT

    Earlier this month, we took a look at the new blogging efforts of the WSJ. Today, we focus on the NYT’s attempts. Not surprisingly, there’s quite a few similar issues when two large mainstream media firms take a stab at blogging. The Times’ gets a numb…

  12. The Big Picture commented on Oct 3

    WSJ: Free or Paid? (Yes)

    Early 2006, I gave some unsolicited advice to the WSJ about their blogging efforts (WSJ Joins the Blogging Crowd). That was well received, and eventually, I did some (unpaid) consulting for about blogging, as well as other mainstream financial …

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