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WSJ.com set to cut staff

The online arm of The Wall Street Journal intends to lay off some of its staff as part of a restructuring plan to reduce costs amid the Net advertising slowdown.

    Internet news site WSJ.com intends to lay off some of its staff as part of a restructuring plan to reduce costs amid the Net advertising slowdown, parent company Dow Jones confirmed Thursday.

    A representative for the publishing behemoth said there will be a "limited amount" of positions cut in some areas of Dow Jones, including at WSJ.com, which has about 250 employees. The representative declined to give further details except to say the company intends to provide more information when it releases first-quarter earnings, slated for April 12.

    WSJ.com, one of the few Internet publications to successfully operate under a subscription-based model, has appeared until now to be somewhat immune to the softening in ad spending.

    But like other media companies, its parent is beginning to feel the heat of the advertising slowdown and overall economic woes. Dow Jones recently issued a profit warning and said it would take "aggressive" action to better align its expenses with market conditions, including a reduction in personnel and deferring other spending.

    Earlier this month, the New York-based company, which operates The Wall Street Journal, magazines Barron's and SmartMoney, and other publications, said it expects advertising linage per Journal issue to decline between 25 percent to 30 percent in the first quarter, compared with a 38 percent increase in the same period a year ago.

    Knight Ridder, another giant publisher that owns the Detroit Free Press, The Philadelphia Inquirer and the Miami Herald, also recently issued a profit warning, primarily because of stalled advertising. The company's online arm, KnightRidder.com, announced in December that it would lay off 68 employees, or 16 percent of its work force, as part of a reorganization aimed at achieving profitability by 2002.