Dow Jones: We've Reduced Costs $100 Million In '08; Promises $40 Million In Savings For H109

This story was written by David Kaplan.
Seeking to prove News Corp Chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch's earnings call line about "not tolerating any fat," the Dow Jones unit is claiming it lowered operating costs by more than $100 million. The company, which houses WSJ, Barron's and the NewsWires businesses, also says it will have found another $40 million by the end of June. Of course, that didn't do much to ease the $8.4 billion Q4 writedown News Corp took on its acquisition of Dow Jones, but these days, anything helps. Aside from the 28 posts eliminated yesterday at WSJ, DJ says it didn't count on cost reductions to wring a $100 million in savings; it also invested. Here's the rundown:

Share and share alike: After the completing the $5.6 billion merger in Dec. 20007, DJ quickly began relying on News Corp.'s (NYSE: NWS) auditing, tax and treasury services. It then looked to pool a variety of resources with News Corp tabloid NY Post. Mundane efforts like outsourcing and consolidating office space, re-bidding contracts for services on top of a salary freeze and deferring new hires also contributed.

Expand and extend: Building out WSJ's general and international news coverage, as well as new sports, arts and opinion features, thanks to the addition of four more print pages helped drive individual paid subscriptions up by 2.4 percent in Q4. Murdoch seized on that figure during the earnings call, claiming that no major paper in America could match it. The company said that new investments to,,, and the other sites of the Wall Street Journal Digital Network produced 76 percent higher collective traffic and 37 percent rise in pageviews last year. While all that has certainly made the company's offerings, another investment might not pay off so well in a down economy. The purchase of Winner's Circle augmented existing conference business, but as the economy appears likely to limp along for the rest of the year, this is one area that's not likely to add much until the downturn eases off.

By David Kaplan