Been Town: 'WSJ' Closes Boston Bureau

While The Wall Street Journal has fared better than other big newspapers over the last few years, it's clearly not immune to the recession. It is closing its Boston bureau.

The closure -- revealed in a memo to staff managing editor Robert Thomson -- is a small but symbolic retreat for the WSJ, which prides itself on comprehensive coverage.

Altogether, the closure will affect nine reporters, who will reapply for other positions at the newspaper. Day-to-day coverage of Boston's mutual-fund business will be handled by WSJ's Money and Investing team. The paper will also retain an unspecified "investigation function" in Boston, according to Thomson, who cited a "profound downturn in advertising revenue" as the reason for the cuts.

While not among the first (or even second) tier of global financial centers, Boston is still a player -- thanks to its mutual funds, private-equity firms, and wealth management consultants.

Historically, they have handled substantial domestic and foreign investments, although like other financial services, their business has been hit hard by the credit crunch and broader downturn. In a 2008 survey by MasterCard, Boston ranked 21st in the world as a center of business and finance, down from 13th place in 2007.



Big-city newspapers are still under siege, even as the economy is predicted to improve in the second half of the year. Last week, The New York Times announced it will cut 100 positions from its newsroom by the end of the year, equaling roughly 8% of the newsroom staff. The paper's management hopes to accomplish most of the reduction through voluntary buyouts. Employees will have until early December to decide whether to accept the offers.

However, NYT Executive Editor Bill Keller warned: "As before, if we do not reach 100 positions through buyouts, we will be forced to go to layoffs." At the end of 2008, NYTCO's payroll totaled 9,346 full-time employees. Subtracting the 200 positions cut this year leaves a current total of 9,146 -- down 33.7% from 13,800 in 2000.

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