Crovitz, 'WSJ' Publisher, Says 'Premature' to Discuss Future

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By: Jennifer Saba The only definite thing to come out of News Corp. acquisition of Dow Jones is that News Corp. has agreed to purchase the company and its crown jewel The Wall Street Journal. Not much else is known, according to Journal Publisher L. Gordon Crovitz, who spoke with E&P by phone late this afternoon, about the plans for the paper going forward.

Everything is at the tentative stage -- including the fate of Crovitz's own position -- and it's too soon to say whether Murdoch plans to put his money where his mouth is by investing in the paper.

When asked about his own future there, Crovitz responded: "It's premature to know the answer to that. There are some very exciting opportunities for the Journal and Dow Jones and I would like to participate in those opportunities."

There are reports that News Corp. plans to broaden the Journal's coverage, partly taking on The New York Times in general coverage and quite possibly increasing the size of the paper by four additional pages -- a reputed promise by Murdoch.

Additionally, Murdoch has mused that the WSJ.com could be set totally free. Crovitz said the strategy for WSJ.com still remains the hybrid model where some content is free to all while other material is accessible only through a paid subscription. He concedes that News Corp. "may well want to review" the mix.

"To me, the main point is that in the case of the Journal and Barron's, these are brands that people are very happy to pay to receive," he said, adding the subscription revenues are high margin revenues.

As part of News Corp. the Journal can reach more people through News Corp. properties. "We have had to transition to this more digital age by finding more ways to distribute our brands and journalism to people," Crovitz said. "As part of News Corp. we will be able to deliver on that strategy more effectively ... and importantly, we can do that globally."

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