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Media is ‘wheezing and gasping’ but will survive, says departing digital editor of WSJ

Adam+NajbergThe Hong Kong-based editor of The Wall Street Journal’s digital edition, asia.WSJ.com, is quitting journalism after 25 years for a communications role in China.

Adam Najberg, who has worked for the WSJ for almost a decade, said he was keen to “try something new while I have some tread on my tyres”.

He told Mumbrella that while the media world is “wheezing and gasping” as it adapts to change, it still has a future.

“Media was supposedly dying when I came into it 25 years ago. And as I depart, it’s wheezing and gasping, but I see a ton of life still to come and a real will to live,” he said. “And I’ll take any career that gives you a good quarter-century.

“Yes, everyone’s looking for a model to replace having to rely on a shrinking market of $100,000 full-page ads in a newspaper, and there are a lot of ideas.

“I hope and expect at least one of those ideas proves to be the new business model for news. And while I’m leaving, I can guarantee I will remain one of great journalism’s most avid consumers, sharers on social media and lifetime, awestruck fan.”

Najberg began his career in journalism at The Indianapolis News, before joining Dow Jones Newswires as a reporter in 1994.

WSJHe held a number of roles at DJ, including a four year spell as managing editor, before moving across to The Wall Street Journal as news editor, operations in 2006. Najberg has held his current role for three years.

The WSJ became the first newspaper to charge its readers for content online in 1997 with Najberg telling Mumbrella in an interview that “Pulitzer Prize-winning news, investigative news, important and timely insight into an IPO or a company’s death spiral costs money to produce”.

“Sure, lots of sites on the web have news. Some also have rumors masquerading as news, news lifted second or third-hand or coming from parts unknown, And it’s all free! Imagine that!” he said at the time.

“But when you really need to know something in a timely fashion, if you need it verified 100 per cent, many readers know they have to have a publication they trust. I’d say our growing subscriber numbers over the years are testament to our living up to the pact to deliver what they want and need.”

In departing the WSJ, Najberg likened his career at the publication with “playing for Manchester United or the New York Yankees”.

“I have never met a smarter, more-focused and talented group of people devoted to quality and success. I was glad to be there and contribute,” he said. “Even after all the time I spent there, I was always surprised at how a reporter or editor would teach me something I didn’t know before. I’ll miss the people and the cameraderie, but will forever be a member of the WSJ alumni.

“I’m leaving journalism for a second act in life. It just made sense, at 46 years old, to try something new. While I still have some tread on my tires, I want to challenge myself, learn something new.

“I was raised to keep educating myself, to keep growing, and while my mom isn’t around any longer, the message is deeply ingrained.”

Najberg is taking an executive communications role in Shenzhen.

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