2013 has not been a good year for the world’s biggest financial news organizations.Dow Jones, Thomson Reuters and Bloomberg LP have cut newsroom jobs throughout the year, with the latest report saying Bloomberg had eliminated ten television jobs and planned to lay off another 50 people soon.
The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday that the new round of job cuts at Bloomberg will focus on sports, A&E and investigative journalism.
In the same report, the Journal acknowledged that its publisher Dow Jones had “reduced its newsroom in the past year or so,” but the paper didn’t specify an amount.
In June, Bloomberg reported that “fewer than a dozen” Wall Street Journal had accepted buyout offers. More journalists were expected to lose their jobs as Dow Jones sought to unify its newsroom with the Wall Street Journal. The unification was expected to eliminate duplicate positions.
Layoffs in both newsrooms pale in comparison to those at rival Thomson Reuters, who recently announced its intention to cut 3,000 jobs around the world. In February, the company cut 2,500 jobs for a combined elimination of 5,500 positions — or nine percent of its global workforce.
In one month, Thomson Reuters dropped 140 editorial employees. A handful of union employees, some who had been at Reuters for more than 20 years, accepted contract buyouts offered by the company.
Both Bloomberg and Thomson Reuters have struggled to produce a profitable, consumer-facing news platform. After two years of development, Reuters scrapped its next-generation website, eliminating dozens of editorial positions in the process.
Bloomberg, on the other hand, has opted to get ahead of its competition (CNBC, Thomson Reuters and the Wall Street Journal) by taking the opposite approach: Giving away its content online. Bloomberg offers three television feeds online for free, and articles that appear in its publication Businessweek often appear online days before the magazine hits the news stands, offering little incentive for people to subscribe.
Bloomberg’s “give it all away” approach to consumer news — finding an audience that doesn’t want to pay for CNBC and the Wall Street Journal — has been supplemented over the years by sales of its $20,000-a-year financial terminals. That approach may have to change.
The Journal suggested financial news companies are struggling due to weaker demand of its business information platforms — for Bloomberg and Thomson Reuters, their terminals and for Dow Jones, their business news wire.
“The market for financial data has experienced slower growth in recent years as big banks cut back on their head count, thereby reducing demand for new terminals,” Journal reporter William Launder recently wrote.
If things don’t improve, and if strategies don’t change, we can expect more of the same from the big three financial news organizations in 2014.