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The WSJ is not ‘shutting down’, just ‘relooking’ at Asia, says Dow Jones boss

The global managing director of Dow Jones has hit back against reports claiming that The Wall Street Journal will shut down in Asia, saying instead that the company is simply “relooking” at its business model.

Despite the news that WSJ will cease its print run in Hong Kong and Singapore on October 6, Jonathan Wright said that the Rupert Murdoch-owned company is still “innovating” and reviewing its business proposition.

Speaking to Mumbrella, Wright said: “We have innovated for 130 years, whether it’s a redesign of our US paper, whether it’s the iOS we launched in the last couple of weeks.”

“It’s less of a case of shutting down and more of a case of relooking at that business model and that solution. 

“You are absolutely right to say on a week from Friday the Asian and the European edition will no longer be available products, and after 40 years, judging by some of the phone calls I get as the publisher of the Asia and European edition, some people are upset about that.”

Globally, print advertising expenditure has fallen by more than 20 per cent in 2016 at most big newspaper groups and has not improved over recent months.

Nevertheless, he said the company had not entirely closed its international operations, pointing out that subscriptions to its digital paywall had doubled over the last 12 months in Asia.

“We are re-looking at the model,” he added. “For example in Japan, our subscribers will be getting the US version of the paper. That’s also happening in Turkey and we are also in active discussions about Pan-Asia solution that would bring a US paper to those markets.”

He told journalists the company would be working “very hard” for those who still wanted a print product of the WSJ to “still be able to experience it”, in their respective markets.

“You are going to get that from innovation, you are going to get that as you find a sustainable, predominantly digital, predominantly mobile solution to professional journalism, data and news. It fits within that,” he said. 

“But we are working very hard for those who do want a print product of the journal to still be able to experience that in market.”

Meanwhile, as 80 per cent of digital advertising dollars are handed over to technology giants like Facebook and Google, Wright said there was still an opportunity for publishers to “create a community”, and urged owners to think about how they are working with advertisers, the creatives they’re using, and the customer content solution.

“And not be afraid of partnerships,” he added.

“Partnerships can be very positive for both parties involved and that’s not just traditional publishers. It doesn’t have to be just traditional media, it can be digital, it can be digital only, and I think it’s to explore those options.”

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