WSJ Doesn't Mention Own Company's Market-Crashing Error

Hamilton Nolan · 10/30/08 09:01AM

Everybody in the media fucks up once in a while. Sometimes the fallout is bad. Remember when Bloomberg accidentally ran Steve Jobs' obituary while he was still alive? Then shortly afterward they mistakenly ran an old headline about United's bankruptcy as if it was current, and temporarily destroyed the company's stock price? Both are very bad errors, but at least Bloomberg apologized for them. Which is more than you can say for Dow Jones, which handily fails to mention its own mistake that crushed GE's stock price yesterday: With 15 minutes left in the trading day yesterday, Dow Jones ran a mistaken report that (almost singlehandedly) erased the day's gains in the DJ Industrial Average:

Schwab held $85 million in bad Lehman, WaMu debt

Jackson West · 09/30/08 10:20AM

Venerable San Francisco financial firm Charles Schwab just took an $85 million hit, writing off some debt it owned in Lehman Brothers and Washington Mutual. On the Old Money quarter-mile, Montgomery Street, a small electronic ticker from Schwab offers a barometer. After yesterday's 777.68 plunge, the year-to-date number from the Dow Jones index has gone from -17.1 percent when I walked by on Friday to -20.5 percent yesterday afternoon. I've updated the photo from Google Street View to correctly reflect current trends. [San Jose Mercury News]

Barry Diller's finance site: "Completely pointless"

Owen Thomas · 09/22/08 10:20AM

FiLife, a personal-finance site backed by IAC and the Wall Street Journal, is struggling, according to one ex-employee we eavesdropped on at the City Bakery, a coffeehouse in Manhattan's Flatiron neighborhood, as she interviewed for a new job. "The business model completely changed," she said. "It used to be personal finance for people in their 20s and 30s. Now it's just completely pointless." An embittered writer? Perhaps. FiLife hired a batch of journalists, only to switch gears shortly before launch and realize that the Web didn't need another content site. But their replacement — a set of automated tools to evaluate one's place in the financial pecking order — do seem pointless. The site only attracts 31,500 users a month. In this regard, FiLife is utterly typical — of both its backer and its genre.IAC CEO Barry Diller has a ghastly track record of launching projects in-house; almost every vaguely promising Internet property he owns, he bought from someone else:,, CitySearch, and so on. And personal finance sites are deadly. In trying to break the mold, FiLife managed to be even more condescending than most. Its introduction:

WSJ Excited To Exploit Financial Catastrophe

Ryan Tate · 09/17/08 09:24PM

It's the nature of the media business to take profits from the suffering of others, and coverage of the recent financial meltdown is no exception, helping to drive online traffic and (no doubt) newsstand sales. But the Wall Street Journal should be more discreet about its gloating, particularly given the newspaper will soon eject 50 of its own staff into the economic wilderness now home to the likes of Lehman Brothers. At least one Journal staffer was none too pleased to see an internal news item today headlined "Market Turmoil Provides Hook to Sell U.S. Journal in London." (It's reprinted in full after the jump.)

The bubble in personal-finance websites

Owen Thomas · 07/16/08 10:00AM

AOL has launched Walletpop, a personal-finance site; IAC and Dow Jones have FiLife; and has All hope to attract a younger audience to personal-finance news than the conventional stock talk and online portfolios offered by the staid likes of Yahoo Finance and CNNMoney. The bets are wrong both in their timing and their premise. Stockbrokers and mortgage lenders, reliable advertisers during good times, are both ducking for cover and pulling back their budgets. Froth might have sustained these sites a couple of years ago, but not now. No matter when they launched, though, their proponents should have remembered this maxim: Financial advice, like youth itself, is wasted on the young.

Valleywag spots secret Yahoo conclave at D6

Owen Thomas · 05/28/08 08:20PM

CARLSBAD, CA — On stage at D6, Sue Decker couldn't offer any explanation why she was qualified to be president of Yahoo. But if you ask Valleywag, she's doing a bang-up job of pursuing Yahoo's strategy of embracing openness. For example, by holding a meeting within camera-lens length of Valleywag in the Four Seasons Lobby Lounge. Our eye was first drawn by Yahoo Media Group chief Scott Moore's blindingly colorful Madras shirt; we then saw he was sitting with Decker. Two of the other participants: Gordon McLeod and Matthew Goldberg, business-side executives at Dow Jones, which means they were likely discussing some kind of news-content partnership between Yahoo and the Wall Street Journal. I'd thought I spooted Brad Garlinghouse, the Yahoo executive who wrote the famous "Peanut Butter Memo," in the group, but I'm told he wasn't there. I later spotted him strolling down the halls with Yahoo board member Bobby Kotick, the CEO of Activision. More pictures of the meeting:

Words Mean 'Nothing' To Murdoch

Nick Denton · 04/23/08 04:12PM

The dreadful Bancrofts, while enjoying the diversification of their wealth out of Dow Jones stock, have already started complaining about the company's new owner, Rupert Murdoch. "Words mean nothing to him, unless they're his," the doyenne of the family, Jane Cox MacElree, tells Portfolio. A futile complaint from an heiress, but MacElree has a way with words herself.

Are VCs fleeing the Web? Yes and no

Owen Thomas · 04/21/08 06:40PM

Most venture capitalists are adept followers of the herd. As such, their investments are best seen as trailing indicators — the financial detritus of events past, rather than predictors of what to come. Is there a bubble in Web startups? The numbers themselves are as confused as investors. Dow Jones says the first quarter saw a record $1.58 billion in venture capital invested in Internet companies. Thomson Reuters says its figure of $1.3 billion was down 7 percent from the fourth quarter. Data about VC investments is hard to obtain, and the two categorize companies differently. Anecdotally, it's clear that smart VCs have stopped funding every new social-media website and online-ad network that cross their desks. But the Valley remains awash in dumb money that has yet to be called home. The popping of this bubble will take more than a quarter's time.

Malaise Days For Journal's Index

Ryan Tate · 03/26/08 03:34AM

American stocks have declined over the past nine years, even before you adjust for inflation and the fall of the worthless dollar. It's the saddest stock scene since the 1970s and the Wall Street Journal said "we may be in another lost decade." To prove it, the paper furnishes a fancy chart and a bunch of statistics based on the S&P 500 stock index. In a brief disclaimer, the paper admits stocks are actually up if you use this other index. Which one would that be? Oh, just something called the Dow Jones Industrial Average, created by the founders of the Journal. [WSJ] (Photo via 60 Minutes)

Salon shares secrets to get around Wall Street Journal's pay wall — but not its own

Jordan Golson · 03/21/08 01:40PM

In an article on Salon's Machinist blog today, Farhad Manjoo gives tips for getting around the Wall Street Journal's paid-subscription barrier. allows some featured articles to be read for free, but puts much of its content behind what's known in the business as a "pay wall." The dirty secret Manjoo exposes: Many of the "hidden" articles can be easily accessed with a little technical know-how. What he doesn't stop to ask: Why has new Journal owner Rupert Murdoch made it so easy?

An Untimely Embarrassment For Barry Diller

Nick Denton · 03/17/08 01:49PM

Could Barry Diller's Fi Life, a misconceived financial portal for young investors, already be in trouble? Several journalists who joined the outfit, a joint venture between Diller's IAC and Dow Jones, are said to be scrambling for new jobs. (Email if you have details.) The project involved Dave Kansas, a veteran of online financial news with a jinx; partnerships between big media conglomerates usually work better as cocktail party fantasy than they do as actual businesses; and Rupert Murdoch, who acquired Dow Jones last year, prefers full control. So Fi Life was obviously doomed. But one would have thought Diller, who's in a Delaware court fighting for control of his internet conglomerate, would want to arrange a more elegant unwinding.

Peppy Young Songstress Plans To Save Journalism

Hamilton Nolan · 02/19/08 09:29AM

Wrinkly News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch chose Natalie Bancroft, an inexperienced 27 year-old opera singer, for his company's board for very good reasons: He had to choose someone from her family, which controlled Dow Jones before selling to Murdoch last year; The people in the family who might actually be qualified for the board seat would also be a pain in Rupert's ass; and Natalie Bancroft has promised to work her "little butt off" in a quest to figure out what the hell she's doing!

When newspaper reporters were hot — the 100-word version

Paul Boutin · 01/03/08 01:50PM

Helicopters. Hot metal print. Faked photos. Police scanners and running engines. Even if you're not a journalism wonk, outgoing Wall Street Journal managing editor Paul Steiger's recap of his years in the golden age of newspaper reporting is an engaging read, all 2,963 words of it. If you just want the dirt, I've pullquoted Steiger's dead-bird story, plus the time he asked for a helicopter to do some reporting. Does Pajamas Media have one of those?

Murdoch advertises his own victory

Mary Jane Irwin · 12/14/07 05:40PM

In his own, not-so-subtle way, Rupert Murdoch is screaming Face! at all of News Corp.'s competitors, detractors, and new Dow Jones employees. The form of his victory lap? Despite the fact that every major news outlet has covered Murdoch's $5 billion acquisition of Wall Street Journal publisher Dow Jones since the first whispered rumors, the billionaire found it prudent to spent $2 million on a global ad campaign — a three-page advertisement that flaunts the history of News Corp.'s acquisitions. With Murdoch's oft-undermined slogan — "Free people, free markets, free thinking," except when he's doing business in China — the promo is running today in the New York Times, Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times. "We make the stuff that excites, entertains, informs, enriches and infuriates billions of imaginations." Indeed.

Choire · 12/13/07 05:20PM

Rupert Murdoch addressed his newest peons at the Wall Street Journal today; the speech marked the occasion of the official shareholder approval of News Corp.'s purchase of Dow Jones & Co. That's Les Hinton, the new Dow Jones CEO, on the left and Robert Thomson, new WSJ publisher. [Photo: AP/Mark Lennihan]

Dow Jones shareholders, for one, welcome Murdoch as new overlord

Jordan Golson · 12/13/07 03:32PM

A Reaganesque landslide: Dow Jones shareholders voted 60 percent in favor of Rupert Murdoch's purchase of the company which publishes the Wall Street Journal. The Bancroft family, split as always on the deal, tendered 54 percent of their supervoting shares to approve the deal, while an overwhelming 78 percent of common stock was voted in favor. Murdoch has already started replacing execs at Dow Jones, and News Corp. takes formal control tomorrow. (Photo by AP/Evan Vucci)

Jordan Golson · 11/07/07 06:00PM

Rupert Murdoch has added a 27-year-old European opera singer to the News Corp. board of directors. Natalie Bancroft, of the Bancroft family which sold Dow Jones to News Corp., was was offered the position as part of acquisition negotiations. One Dow Jones employee said, "It validates the family's incompetence." Ouch. Natalie has, as best as we can tell, zero experience running a business. An interesting choice for Rupert — we wonder what kind of influence, if any, Natalie will have on News Corp. Other board members include Murdoch's eldest son Lachlan, News Corp. COO and president Peter Chernin and a former prime minister of Spain. [FT]

'Crain's' Newsroom In A Cold Sweat

Maggie · 10/31/07 04:15PM

Crain's New York Business editor Greg David, a 22-year veteran of the magazine, was kicked upstairs earlier this month, and he's none too happy about it. "David is not going quietly," a tipster tells us, describing the atmosphere as "really horrific." Apparently there have been tears in the ladies room! Frankly, we would be kind of cranky ourselves if management declared us past our expiration date after 22 years. Yesterday, David fired assistant managing editor Carmen Fleetwood, but we hear the decision probably wasn't related&mdash the two often butted heads. Fleetwood hadn't been at Crain's long&mdash she joined the magazine in June after 13 years as a reporter and editor at Dow Jones Newswires.

Killing trees doesn't work anymore for WSJ

Nicholas Carlson · 10/18/07 10:27AM

I'm always hearing that no matter how bad it gets for newspapers, icons like the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times will be fine. Don't count on it. Dow Jones announced earnings today, and it looks like even the Journal is in trouble. Print ad revenues sank 2.9 percent in the third quarter. And worse yet, while print circulation increased 7.8 percent, ad revenue dropped 0.5 percent. Advertisers had to spend less to reach more readers. Online ad revenues were up 7.8 percent in the quarter, however. And there's your solution? Rupert Murdoch should go with his instinct and set's content free. The plan appears to be working for the Times. (Photo by Claire L. Evans)