Corrections or additions?
This article by Melinda Sherwood was prepared for publication
online at U.S. 1 Newspaper’s website on October 13, 1999. All rights
Flux or Snapshot in Time?
While new media professionals debate whether subscribers will pay for
content on the Web, and whether they want more or less of it in one
sitting, Rich Jaroslovsky, managing editor of the Wall Street
Journal Interactive, has his answer: "The answer for us has been
clearly and resounding is that people want more," he says. "Even if
people aren’t going to follow that link to the government people want
to know that if they need that information that it’s there. We publish
more than you would get in a print publication."
Jaroslovsky will be one of the guest speakers at the New Jersey Press
Association’s conference on Thursday, October 14. The all-day
conference begins at 11:30 a.m. at the Brower Commons on College
Avenue with keynote speaker Andrew Kohut, director of the Pew
Center for the People and the Press in Washington D.C., who discusses
"Staying Relevant in a Multimedia Age: The Challenge for
Newspapers and Universities." A symposium follows at 2
p.m. at the Alexander Library on College Avenue. Speakers include
Adam Clayton Powell III, vice president for technology at the
Freedom Forum; Carol Ann Riordan, of the American Press
Institute; Acel Moore, associate editor of the Philadelphia
Inquirer; David Mazzarella, editor emeritus and senior vice
president of USA Today, and others. Call 609-406-0600.
With 1.6 million paid subscribers in its electronic publishing
operations, Dow Jones & Company, which owns the Wall Street Journal
Interactive, Reuters Business Interactive, and Dow Jones Newswires, is
clearly a Web success story. But with the strength and respect of its
brand name, could it have been otherwise?
When the Web technology first appeared, says Jaroslovsky, who holds a
BS in political science from Stanford, Class of 1975, Dow Jones was on
the brink of making a big mistake. "In early `94, the Web hadn’t
caught on as a mass medium, we spent most of `94 working on a plan
that would have created a dial-up version of the Wall Street Journal,
more along the lines of the AOL model," he says. "We were working with
outside software companies to install on their computers but we
rethought it. The concern was that we were off creating a really great
Betamax when the rest of the world was getting ready for VHS."
Thanks to the Web, Jaroslovsky, who was the Wall Street Journal’s
white house correspondent from 1975 to 1994, continues to live a
"highly-caffeinated existence." Not only does he oversee 55 editors,
he has to train retrain journalists for a medium that has few
set-in-stone rules. "The decision on what external sites to link to
from a story is not a traditional journalistic skill, but it’s a
decision nonetheless," he says.
Fortunately, the Interactive has considerable underwriting, in the
form of paying subscribers. "The nature of financial news and the
audiences it appeals to is an audience that is used to paying for
useful information," says Jaroslovsky. "It’s not as alien a concept as
it may be to a general newspaper reader. We set out from the outset
that would be so valuable that people would see the value in it and be
willing to pay for it. We are what the Wall Street Journal would be if
it could be published 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
At 2 a.m. on Christmas morning, someone is here updating the site."
That immediacy may be an attractive component for the business
community, but Jaroslovsky doubts that the Interactive journal will
undermine the print Wall Street Journal’s subscriber base or
advertising revenues. "There’s been very little if any evidence of
cannibalization of advertising revenues," he says. "New media by and
large don’t kill old media, despite all the predictions of doom.
I guess the distinctions between interactive publishing and print
publishing will begin to disappear. Print will continue to be very
vigorous because it is a different medium." The Web may reflect the
constant flux of the world, says Jaroslovsky, but a print newspaper is
a "snapshot in time."
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