Audit Notes: WSJ iPad, Bled Dry, Grease Up the Revolving Doors!

The Wall Street Journal’s iPad revenues are less than it led us to believe. Business Insider prints an internal memo that spells out the $400,000 ad buys that six companies made:

Each package was US $400,000 and each advertiser got two ad pages in the WSJ newspaper and then about US $100K of online advertising across the Wall Street Journal digital network.

Two full pages of ads in the newspaper are worth a lot of money. The list price on its rate card for a one-page ad in the national edition runs between $190,000 and $286,000 apiece. Of course, that’s the rate card, so the actual average price paid is a lot less (It’s hard to tell how much, frankly). But still, you can see that between the print ads and the $100,000 worth of Web ads, there’s not much left for the iPad.

So considering all the very valuable upsells (actually, it seems more like the iPad is the upsell here), Business Insider’s $2.4 million number for iPad ads is wrong, as I was when I calculated that in March. The good news is that the WSJ says it’s going to increase the number of ad slots to ten and reduce the giveaways in the iPad package.

— ProPublica’s Karen Weise interviews former SEC head Arthur Leavitt, who blasts the financial-reform bill that caused the papers to break out the superlatives (“historic,” “sweeping,” “landmark”—you know the ones) this weekend.

Leavitt says the bill “totally left investors in the dust” and was “bled dry of nearly every meaningful protection of investors.”

And about all those feel-good adjectives tossed around:

“I think that’s ridiculous. Whatever changes were made were made at the margins.”


The New York Times yesterday had one of the better stories on the finance-reform bill. It gets at just how much this bill depends on the muscle of regulators.

The bill, completed early Friday and expected to come up for a final vote this week, is basically a 2,000-page missive to federal agencies, instructing regulators to address subjects ranging from derivatives trading to document retention. But it is notably short on specifics, giving regulators significant power to determine its impact — and giving partisans on both sides a second chance to influence the outcome.

And the lobbyists are circling. This is excellent context (emphasis mine):

The debit card regulations are unusual, however, in pitting the interests of two industries against each other. Many more of the new regulations pit the interests of consumer groups against financial companies.

Historically, industry groups have dominated these information wars, plying regulators with exhaustive studies and detailed analyses of the options at hand. Trade groups have more money and more people, and they often produce and control the relevant information about their business and customers.

In other news, hardware stores are reporting a run on WD-40 all along the East Coast. Wall Street’s loading up to make sure those revolving doors continue to spin freely.

Has America ever needed a media watchdog more than now? Help us by joining CJR today.

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.