A “Report to Our Readers” From the Publisher of The Wall Street Journal

From a “Report to Our Readers” by Almar Latour, publisher of The Wall Street Journal:

To Our Readers:

When news broke that a missile had landed in Poland late last year, killing two people, the world briefly stood still, pondering a question that had not been asked since a different era: Could this incident spark a direct confrontation between Russia and NATO?

Some media reported that the missile had been fired by Moscow and the story spread around the globe. The Wall Street Journal instead stuck to the facts it could verify. It turned out the missile was of Russian make but that it likely had been fired by a Ukrainian air-defense battery—a significant distinction.

This missile saga, while now largely forgotten, highlights two truths that are relevant to the global news institution that is The Wall Street Journal. First, the contours of a new era are slowly taking shape, set against a landscape of volatility and unpredictability in virtually every realm: from energy to technology, geopolitics to local politics, and markets to the global economy. As a result, the probability of previously unthinkable events—good and bad—appears higher than it has been in many years.

Second, reliable information is the most valuable currency of the epoch. A faulty news dispatch can send massive ripples. Hyperbole, infatuation with spectacle and thinly sourced media reports with alarmist headlines—prevalent in what passes for news today—cloud personal judgment and stifle nuanced societal debate. By contrast, reliable, unbiased journalism, data and analysis can help determine the difference between good outcomes and bad ones.

For The Wall Street Journal, this is our moment. Along with our sister enterprises at Dow Jones, we exist to be your trusted source of journalism, data, commentary and analysis as you make key decisions, be it in business, finance, policy or at the kitchen table. Not only is it our business to be factual, it is our responsibility. And that sense of responsibility, along with our superb staff’s focus and commitment, is one reason our journalism in the past year has been so strong. It is why The Wall Street Journal, and Dow Jones publications such as Barron’s and MarketWatch, attract more news subscribers today than at any other time in our history, nearly five million, and growing.

In 2023 we will continue to focus our unique resources on core news and analysis that matter to you. Even as the Journal and Dow Jones will also have to navigate volatility and economic pressures, we will allocate our resources to get it right for our readers and users everywhere.

Like last year, we expect that much of what happens at home in 2023 will be affected significantly by events abroad. Some of the most insightful work in 2022 came from our Ukraine team, first led by Yaroslav Trofimov and later by James Marson, whose reporting has put a unique spotlight on the war and its cruelties. Their reports are among the best to come out of the global Journal newsroom, including Mr. Marson’s harrowing tale of one Ukrainian unit’s deadly experience in the field. The Journal’s Ukraine team—which includes an experienced, dedicated security staff that helps our reporters navigate the war landscape—offers our readers the highest commitment: risking their lives to get to the truth.

The Journal’s approach to war reporting goes beyond the actual war theater. It is holistic, explaining “the transmission mechanism of how Ukraine is impacting Kansas or New York,” as one editor puts it. That includes the war’s reverberations in markets, energy and food and the global supply chain. Efforts to shed light on the most consequential conflict of a generation will continue in the year ahead.

The Journal’s spotlight will also continue to be pointed at China, as that country asserts itself in new ways, economically and otherwise. Our team’s scoop on the makeup of the Politburo’s Standing Committee was a must-read for anyone in business or policy figuring out the direction of the country, including many readers of our Chinese-language stories.

Some executives who are longtime Journal readers tell me that the publication should be required reading for anyone in business or policy, a sentiment I wholeheartedly share. That point is supported by the unrivaled coverage of the Federal Reserve by Nick Timiraos and the Journal newsroom’s coverage of inflation even before it became a dominant global narrative and a story discussed in every home.

Incidentally, the Journal’s editorial board and op-ed contributors warned about inflation when many said it was transitory. Our diverse contributors to these pages urged the Fed to end its easy-money policies; the editorial board lobbied for and anticipated the Supreme Court’s historic decisions on religious liberty and illegal executive overreach on Covid mandates and climate regulation; and it remains deeply critical of performative politics without a cause. As always, our op-ed pages featured prominent voices from both the right and the left, a core strength meant to foster debate rather than stifle it.

WSJ Opinion columnists showed independent thinking that is willing to break from conformity in large parts of the media: Andy Kessler forecast the meltdown of cryptocurrency investments; Allysia Finley explained the looming breakthroughs against diseases like Alzheimer’s and pushed the FDA for faster approvals; and Holman W. Jenkins Jr. took on failures of the U.S. press to deal honestly with its mistakes on FBI meddling in elections.

Next month will mark a transition at the helm of the Journal newsroom. Matt Murray, editor in chief, will take on a senior position at News Corp following a highly successful period leading our reporters. Under his management, the Journal saw superb growth and excellent journalism, all during an era of unprecedented challenges. In February, Emma Tucker will take over from Mr. Murray. An energetic and seasoned editor who has led the Sunday Times in the U.K., Ms. Tucker will bring digital savvy, a global perspective and a deep passion for high-quality journalism.

As we seek to expand our audience and our impact, one thing that will not change is our approach to news: Our staff looks at the world through a business lens, calmly and deliberately. Our newsroom honors its great responsibility for accuracy and fairness in reporting, and openly corrects errors that of course do occur. Now perhaps more than ever, good reporting means showing restraint, writing only what our journalists know—and not what they may think they know. These lessons were applied during the missile story and they are applied every single day to every story.

All in all, the Journal will not sit still in the coming year. We believe in the old mantra from Clarence Barron, who presided over the Journal a century ago: “We can always improve.” Your feedback is key to that. So, together, as we make sense of the changing world around us, we look forward to hearing from the most important part of our institution: you, the reader.

Almar Latour

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