Wall Street Journal Editor-in-Chief Gerard Baker suggested he would try to diversify the paper’s senior editorial staff as part of a massive newsroom reorganization announced Wednesday.
The deck-chair shuffling ― dubbed WSJ 2020 ― wouldn’t add to or remove from the paper’s staff of about 1,300, Baker said in an email to employees. Instead, a raft of new editing positions are being created as others are being eliminated. Baker is calling for both internal and external candidates to fill these roles.
“We need to introduce new faces, new skills and a greater diversity to our news leadership,” Baker said in the memo. “We need to be genuinely inclusive ― and that starts with the leadership. We must have genuine equality of opportunity and a workforce that is properly rewarded and motivated.”
The statement, in its rather reserved way, seems to be something of a response to the Journal newsroom’s increasingly loud calls for greater diversity. Reporters voiced their frustration in a series of emails to Baker and his deputy, Matt Murray, earlier this year, asking that something be done about issues including the lack of women in masthead-level roles, the gender imbalance in news bylines and the reported gender pay gap. (Full disclosure: This reporter was an editor at the Journal from 2006 to 2011.)
Murray is set to be promoted to executive editor as part of the reorganization. The full memo to staff is available on the website of IAPE, the news guild that represents the Journal’s reporters and conducted pay audits.
“We haven’t had any discussions with management over today’s note,” Tim Martell, the executive director of IAPE, said in an email to HuffPost. “But taking Mr. Baker’s words at face value, this does appear to be a first step along the path laid out by Will Lewis in his Monday memo.”
The announcement comes just two days after William Lewis, the chief executive of the Journal’s parent company Dow Jones, pledged to focus on promoting more women throughout the company. He said the first goal was having 40 percent of senior roles filled by women.
Neither Dow Jones nor the Journal would reveal what percentage of employees, or senior leaders, are currently women. A spokesman told HuffPost such information would be forthcoming.
Baker said in the memo that he’d discuss the changes at upcoming meetings with staff.
The changes Baker announced are part of the 128-year-old publication’s efforts to become more mobile-friendly, Baker wrote in his 2,300-word email. He said stories in the paper needed to be more “digestible.”
Earlier this month, the paper shuttered eight of its blogs.
Baker himself has been the focus of criticism over the past several months, as some people have argued the paper hasn’t been tough enough in its coverage of President Donald Trump.
“While we produce the world’s best journalism, too often we write too many stories,” Baker wrote. “They are not conceived with a mobile audience in mind; they are often too long and prolix; they receive too many rewrites and edits.”