Wall Street Journal shakes up D.C. bureau with big layoffs

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The Wall Street Journal took a hatchet to its Washington bureau on Thursday, laying off roughly 20 staffers in a restructuring that adds to a brutal start to 2024 for the journalism industry.

The cuts focused on the bureau’s economics reporters in Washington, who will be folded into the newspaper’s New York-based business team. The bureau’s team covering U.S.-China news will be shuttered.

In an email to staffers that was reviewed by The Washington Post, Editor in Chief Emma Tucker said the Journal’s Washington bureau will now focus specifically on “politics, policy, defense, law, intelligence and national security.” Laid-off staffers will be allowed to apply to some new jobs created to replace the coverage, according to Tucker.

“It is imperative that we have the right structure in Washington to deliver trusted, ambitious reporting for our readers in an election year and beyond,” Tucker wrote.

Tucker, who was named to the prominent business paper’s top job in 2022, has sought to shake up its coverage, once reportedly describing the writing in its articles as “stiff and unappealing” and expressing concerns that the paper has too many layers of editors.

In an interview with the New York Times last fall, she acknowledged that some job cuts could be on the horizon but also spoke of making new hires in the areas of audience strategy and digital storytelling.

Washington bureau employees received the layoff news around 9 a.m., according to a Journal staffer, with specific notices coming a few hours later. The Journal, which is owned by media mogul Rupert Murdoch, did not respond to requests for comment about exactly how many staffers will lose their jobs.

The layoffs mark the latest job losses in a grueling stretch for the media. A day before the Journal layoffs, upstart news site the Messenger — which launched last year with a $50 million budget — abruptly collapsed, firing roughly 300 staffers who were left without health insurance or severance. The Los Angeles Times and digital news site Business Insider also laid off significant portions of their staff last month.

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