Audit Notes: Smart Money, NYT CEO, sushi chefs and

Dow Jones lays off staff and goes all-digital with its personal-finance magazine

Dow Jones is shutting down Smart Money magazine, laying off most of the staff and going to a digital-only format just two years after it bought the half it didn’t own from Hearst.


“What consumer wants financial advice in 30-day increments?” Scott Daly, evp and executive media director at Dentsu America, said in an email. “Not this guy. How can I recommend that to a client with a straight face?”

And it’s not just SmartMoney getting hit in the personal-finance magazine sector:

SmartMoney’s ad pages fell 23.4 percent to 67 in the first quarter of this year versus the year-ago period, per the Publishers Information Bureau. Kiplinger’s Personal Finance’s pages fell 34 percent to 53 in the same period, and Money’s by 14 percent to 92.

— The New York Times Company has been without a CEO for all of 2012 so far, and hasn’t looked like it’s in any hurry to fill the spot.

But The Guardian reports today that the outgoing head of the BBC is in the running for the position:

Discussions between Thompson and New York Times executives are still active, although it is believed that the 54-year-old Briton is also considering other jobs…

A source not connected to Thompson said he had had two meetings in London over the past four weeks about the vacant New York Times Company chief executive role - and that the meetings appeared to be part of a “co-ordinated attempt” by the US newspaper publisher to hire Thompson.

The Financial Times confirms it.

The anti-paywall Guardian grudgingly calls the NYT’s digital subscription plan, which has half a million people paying nearly 200 bucks a year for news lots of folks said they wouldn’t pay for, is “relatively successful.”

— New Orleans alt-weekly The Gambit continues to cover Advance Publications’ Times-Picayune fiasco well, reporting today on a meeting between brass there and the tech community of New Orleans.

This isn’t a member of the Obama administration’s political team or an oil-company executive speaking, it’s the editor of the Times-Pic’s website (emphasis mine):

“Because of the leaks that happened in The New York Times, we lost control of the narrative, and for two weeks we really had to focus all our efforts on what we had to do as a company [which] was to tell all our employees where they stood.

Publisher Ricky Mathews also aid this: “We’re going to create a Google-Nike kind-of-vibe work environment.”

Maybe some of the lost newsroom jobs will pay for sushi chefs and masseuses.

But isn’t this interesting: The Gambit reports that the techies saw through the digital smokescreen:

Still, the major concern of the tech crowd seemed to be not the bits and bytes behind, but the quality of the reporting — or, as it’s increasingly been called, “content.”

It was the final comment, by an audience member, that seemed to sum up much of the crowd’s feelings. “I just think we all want to see you have a website which is not the website you have,” said one man, “that is worthy of the kind of journalism that came out after [Hurricane] Katrina, the [Louisiana INCarcerated] prison system series, all that. It’s not there, and I’m sure some of your journalists are waiting to see it as well.

“And that’s what it comes down to: The website just has to be worthy of the people who write for it.”

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Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at Follow him on Twitter at @ryanchittum. Tags: , , , ,