Retaining Credibility and Solving the Fake News Problem

Written by BCCJ
February 28, 2017

Written by BCCJ
February 28, 2017

On 22 February 2017, BCCJ members and guests gathered at the ANA InterContinental to hear Jonathan Wright, Managing Director International of Dow Jones, speak about how the company has changed its strategy to meet changing consumer trends and needs, the future of publishing, and how The Wall Street Journal retains its credibility in an increasingly complex news environment.

Jonathan Wright, who is responsible for defining and implementing growth strategies for The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) and Dow Jones outside the United States, first provided BCCJ members with a brief overview of the company and its products.

A leading provider of news and information services, Dow Jones was founded in 1882 and has been owned by News Corp. since 2007. The company brings together world-leading media and data products with brands including The Wall Street Journal, Barron’s and MarketWatch, as well as a suite of Professional Information Business products, including Factiva, Risk & Compliance offerings, and Dow Jones Newswires. The company also has a growing membership-based events offering, with its signature CEO Council expanding to Asia with its first Japan event this May.

Wright said that while the global nature of the company and diversity of international markets present natural challenges, he is greatly excited by the many exciting growth opportunities for Dow Jones both in Japan and globally. In particular, he discussed numerous partnerships with a broad array of industries including publishers, airlines, and telcos. He also spoke with great enthusiasm of exciting innovations underway at The Wall Street Journal including interactive immersive storytelling and virtual reality, emphasising that, “Working in a diverse, constantly innovating global business is incredibly rewarding and great fun.”

Addressing the subject of the transformation of the publishing industry, Wright discussed that while print remains an important platform for WSJ, there is a growing shift towards digital and mobile consumption, especially given the rise of social media and tech platforms.

He relayed concerns amongst professional publishers over these platforms treating all news as the same, driving the growth and consumption of fake news. Wright discussed that this pervasive click-bait model has played a major role in proliferating fake news and decreased an emphasis on quality content and transparency, posing an alarming threat to serious journalism.

He discussed that responsibility lies with companies such as Google and Facebook to take action and for the publishing industry as a whole to come together to find a solution. Although Wright conceded fake news is not a new phenomenon, the recent spotlight on it from the US election will hopefully allow publishers to reframe their conversations with tech companies whose platforms provide a conduit for fake news to thrive.

Wright emphasised the importance of publishers sharing strategy and collaborating to tackle these issues, and cited proactive measures underway at the Journal, such as recent testing of turning off Google’s “first click free” for WSJ content.

In response to a question on the effect that the Trump presidency has had on the publishing business, he relayed that digital subscriptions had increased due to the drive towards reliable news sources.

Wright advocated that now more than ever professional journalism outlets such as The Wall Street Journal are vital to deliver credible, fair and balanced news which holds public figures and companies accountable.

Referring to Dow Jones’ growth strategy, Wright shared his goal is to support growth across all of the company’s work streams to deliver scalable and repeatable solutions, and to increase WSJ membership (or subscriptions). He also discussed that the company was agile and open to localisation where appropriate, citing the success of WSJ’s Japanese language site and its professional information business in Japan.

Wright concluded by talking about his goals for Japan. “Japan is an important regional hub and one of our top-tier Asia markets. I would like to see a continued increase in WSJ memberships and to further expand our presence in Japan. We’re greatly excited by the debut of our CEO Council Asia Annual Meeting this May in Tokyo. We also look forward to further growth for our Professional Information Business, which has been seeing strong interest from the banking sector with our PEP screening product.”