Journalist Q&A: Alan Murray, The Wall Street Journal

Alan Murray speaks to Steve Barrett about The Wall Street Journal's online offering and looking after its websites, including WSJ.com and MarketWatch, books, conferences, and television operations.

Name: Alan Murray
Title: Deputy managing editor and executive editor, online
Outlet: The Wall Street Journal
Preferred contact: alan.murray@wsj.com
Website: www.wsj.com

Alan Murray speaks to Steve Barrett about The Wall Street Journal's online offering and looking after its websites, including WSJ.com and MarketWatch, books, conferences, and television operations.

How has the Journal's online coverage evolved over the years?
We have made huge progress and it's now as close to a truly integrated news-generation service as possible. We have 2,000 journalists out there supplying multiple platforms and multimedia.

What difference has this made to your journalists?
Journalists have to be flexible, multitasking, always-on, and familiar with different types of media. We give reporters out in the field iPhones and collapsible tripods. They shoot b-roll footage and pieces to camera, upload them, and they are edited in-house. We sometimes broadcast pieces live over a Skype connection.

What else are you doing online?
We have a YouTube channel that makes available on-demand content from the newspaper's video programming. We also have Off Duty, a daily lifestyle show that airs each business day on WSJ.com and WSJ Live, our interactive video application.

What is the Journal's strategy on social media?
It's pretty simple. We go where our readers want us to go. We do a bit on Facebook, a bit on LinkedIn. We're trying out Pinterest, especially with our Fashion Week coverage. That's a good way to try it out and see what the response is.

Are there any guidelines for reporters on their use of social media?
There are general guidelines for reporters, and it can essentially be summed up in the words “don't be stupid.” We don't allow reporters to tweet out stories before they have gone live.

Reporters are shocked at how many of their followers on Twitter are PR people. They have become brands in their own right. Social media and video is more personal – people want more information about reporters.

What are you looking for from PR people?
Recognize that the Journal is very visual these days. We need people who can get us good information quickly. We don't mind people pitching us as long as it is done with care and respect. We don't like people who send us random stuff over and over again. Continually pushing it isn't going to make us give in.

What are the main frustrations?
It's easy to find out what reporters' interests are, but people still pitch stuff that is so far outside the wheelhouse. I haven't written a column for the Journal in four years, but I still have PR people pitching me column ideas. I find people who make an effort to understand what I need and what I'm looking for extremely useful. I have some good friends in that category.

Have you any other specific advice for PRs?
If your CEO is in town on a media tour, don't just go to CNBC, come and see The Wall Street Journal as well. We're well-located, and we can reach 1.5 million viewers across all our video channels. We put out a lot of video, and it's all outside our paywall.

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