Magazine article Editor & Publisher

'WSJ' Middle East Staffers Rip Dow Jones in Letter to Board

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

'WSJ' Middle East Staffers Rip Dow Jones in Letter to Board

Article excerpt

A letter to the Dow Jones & Co. Board of Directors apparently written by a group of Middle East correspondents criticized the company's cutbacks and claimed it is "squeezing the staff" during current contract talks.

"People buy the newspaper, subscribe to the wire service and click on the website because they need to know what we have to say. Providing the best news coverage in the world is our business plan," the letter, first posted on the Romenesko site, stated in part. It later adds, "The best employees won't be loyal to a company that isn't loyal to them; they can always go elsewhere....

"It's very clear: We take the risks; top managers reap the rewards." Four bombs went off in Baghdad today, killing at least 127, despite the "surge" of U.S. troops.

"Since the last tortured contract negotiations, six of the paper's war correspondents have left The Wall Street Journal," the write. "David Cloud, Helene Cooper, Nick Kulish and Alexei Barrionuevo are now writing for The New York Times. Dan Morse has gone to the Washington Post. Hugh Pope has left journalism entirely."

The letter, signed by 12 union and non-union staffers, in bureaus ranging from Iraq to Afghanistan, also notes the compensation of Dow Jones CEO Richard Zannino, claiming "... Rich Zannino and others at the top have excused themselves from the sacrifices the rest of us are being told to make for the good of the company. In 2006, Mr. Zannino received $173,441 to cover commuting costs from his Connecticut home to Manhattan. That means that each and every working day the company pays $667 just to get him to show up at the office. He gets far more just to sit in the back of a limo on his way to work than we get to go into combat."

The letter comes as the Independent Association of Publisher's Employees is in contract talks with Dow Jones over a new contract for editorial employees and as Dow Jones shareholders are set to meet today in Manhattan.

The letter also stated: "We're worried that Dow Jones managers are not conveying to the board and the shareholders just how demoralized the staff is by these triennial efforts to make us pay for management's raises. Senior managers talk about quality journalism, yet seem determined to undermine it. We ask you in your roles as board members to help convince management to look to the long-term health of Dow Jones & Co. …

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