Wall Street Journal says advertising recovery has begun

The Wall Street Journal is already beginning to see a recovery in advertising revenues after a ‘period of darkness’ earlier this year, according to managing editor Robert Thomson.

Speaking at the Reuters Media Summit in New York yesterday, the former Times editor said advertisers were slowly returning to the Journal, which was acquired by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp last year.

“You’re starting to see them emerge in the sunlight after this period of darkness,” he told the Reuters conference. “People are looking for a safe harbour in times of turbulence.”

His comments come in a period when a broad range of newspapers, magazines and broadcasters are announcing job cuts, pay freezes and budget revisions in the midst of the global financial crisis, which has hit advertising revenues.

But Thomson said print was valuable to advertisers because, unlike TV and radio which can operate in the background, consumers made an active decision to read a newspaper.

“The only multi-tasking that you can do while reading a newspaper is drink a cup of coffee,” he said.

Thomson added: “Some people are going to buy newspapers over the next few months, enjoy themselves and make a lot of money.

“We’re not planning to buy papers, but if you ask me, newspapers have been ridiculously oversold.”

Thomson was sent to New York along with former News International chief executive Les Hinton to put the News Corp stamp on the Wall Street Journal, beefing up its political, international and general news coverage.

“A business reader needs to know about Mumbai and what that means,” Thomson told Reuters. “The intelligent businesswoman or man knows they can no longer exist in splendid isolation.”

Broadening the Wall Street Journal’s coverage is a strategy that puts it in increasing competition with the Financial Times, where Thomson previously worked as US editor.

In the US, Thomson said the Wall Street Journal was looking to attract more readers in cities such as Los Angeles and Chicago by compensating for the drop in business coverage provided by local papers.

WSJ parent company Dow Jones has also announced it is launching a Japanese-language website in the first half of next year.

The Journal claims about 3.8m print and online subscribers around the world, about half of whom are in the United States.

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