While parent News Corp (NSDQ: NWS) expands the staff on its stealth tablet effort, Robert Thomson is setting up some kind of skunkworks at the Wall Street Journal. Thompson announced the “WSJ/DJ Special Project” (emphasizing the caps) in a staff memo Tuesday afternoon along with the two editors who will lead it, calling it “crucial to our success as a company,” In the memo, posted by Romenesko, Thomson apologizes for being “necessarily vague” and promises more details at some nebulous time.
The project is led by Jim Pensiero, a Journal deputy managing editor who has been appointed editor-in-chief, and Gabriella Stern, a Dow Jones Newswire’s senior editor, as managing editor. Pensiero has a rep for managing major projects, including the company’s move to mid-Manhattan, the global implementation of a new publishing system, and a decade ago, Process Redesign. Stern most recently has been the senior Newswires’ editor on the News Hub, working with editors from both news ops.
One idea suggested by the choices: a project integrating the two into one news organization. But the way their titles are set up sounds more like a new product. My first two thoughts: a new edition picking up on the Journal’s previously strong business filter/focus or a new multi-platform, more general publication aimed at new readers just below the current subscribers — and designed to be national in the U.S. first, then global. It could be a new digital product, perhaps something aligned with News Corp’s own stealth project. But that’s just a little white boarding on my part.
Thomson promises to back the effort, whatever it is, with newsroom resources: “They will have a large and dedicated (in both senses of the word) editorial staff and will be tapping the combined reporting might of The Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones Newswires, which comprise the world