In the digital age, the speed of information is essential to the health and wealth of a media outlet. Recognizing this, the Wall Street Journal has decided to remake their old newswire to adapt to this society’s new need for faster information. In a memo, reprinted by the Carolina Business News Initiative and The Society of American Business Editors and Writers, Robert Thomson, managing editor for the WSJ announced the following:
We are sending Speedy to the knackery and saddling up a successor, the URGENT. New nomenclature alone will not generate news, so there must also be basic changes of principle and practice at the Journal. A guide to the new system will be published next week and we are aiming to launch on April 15.
According to the memo,the Speedy system—the WSJ and Dow Jone’s old newswire service—faltered and failed due to the staffs’ inability to publish the latest breaking news immediately upon receiving it. “Too many of these items were written in a way which neither made sense to Newswires users nor maximized the value of the news they sought to convey,” Thomson chastised his reporters. “Given that revenue reality, henceforth all Journal reporters will be judged, in significant part, by whether they break news for the Newswires.”
Thomson also sees this as a way to generate new revenue. “There is much angst-ridden, vacuous debate about the fate of American journalism,” writes the managing editor. “This is an important practical measure to secure the long-term future of journalists at Dow Jones.”
Whoa, going head to head with the newswires and, dare we say, the internet?! On the outset it seems like a bold move, but when you think about it, isn’t it the job of journalists to break stories first? Well, here’s to hoping Thomson’s group can finally do what they have all been employed to do.
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