Legal beat gets the axe in Journal cuts

NEW YORK: The Wall Street Journal's coverage of legal issues and regional economies will be distributed among a number of beats following the newspaper's elimination of dedicated teams covering those areas.

NEW YORK: The Wall Street Journal's coverage of legal issues and regional economies will be distributed among a number of beats following the newspaper's elimination of dedicated teams covering those areas.

In a move that surprised employees and industry observers alike, the Journal dismissed 23 reporters last week, including the eight-strong legal team central to the paper's reporting on recent financial scandals. Eight others accepted buyouts, including page one editor John Blanton.

"All these areas are still going to be covered, but not by one standalone group," said Dow Jones spokesperson Karen Penfiero. "The regional economies will be covered by various teams around the country. There will be legal coverage, but not as a standalone beat."

The cuts, which come to around 5% of the Journal's 616 newsroom staff, followed the release of dismal October ad sales figures.

Employees had expected cuts, said Independent Association of Publishers' Employees newsroom chief Tom Lauricella, but were surprised by their depth, along with their concentration in two teams and their inclusion of senior reporters and editors.

"There's a general lack of confidence in the people making decisions around here," he said. "It's very hard to fathom what's going on at the business level."

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