Merrill Lynch analyst Lauren Rich Fine speculated the decision not to replace House as publisher of the Wall Street Journal "likely signals more integration of DJ's print and online operations in the future and a more prominent role for Gordon Crovitz, the head of Electronic Publishing."
The company said Chief Operating Officer Richard Zannino was named chief executive officer, effective February 1. Investors welcomed the news: Dow Jones shares were up over 10 percent in afternoon trading following the morning announcement.
Prior to the announcement, speculation had been rife for the past few years that House was being groomed to replace her husband as CEO, despite her denials to the contrary. The announcement of her retirement caught many observers off guard; not only was she viewed as a major star at the company, but she also played a prominent role in the recent launch of Weekend Journal, one of the company's biggest projects in recent memory.
Observers pointed out that Zannino is taking over a difficult job, at a time when the newspaper industry is facing daunting challenges. Dow Jones, like other publishers, is in a period of transition as a growing number of readers are turning to other news outlets, such as the Internet.
"The Journal has been particularly hard hit because revenue from the advertising categories they have traditionally relied on, like finance and technology, have decreased over the past two years," said media analyst Miles Groves of MG Strategic Research.
Zannino joined Dow Jones in February 2001 as executive vice president and chief financial officer, and was promoted to chief operating officer in July 2002. He previously held senior finance, strategy, and operating positions at companies including Liz Claiborne Inc., General Signal Corporation, Saks Holdings, Inc., and Peter Kiewit Sons', Inc.