New Wall Street Journal ad: subscribe to us, we saw Trump's election coming

gerard baker wsj

Many print and digital news outlets, from The New York Times to Vanity Fair, are seeking subscribers by embracing Donald Trump's criticism of them and alluding to the potential challenges of the years ahead.

The Wall Street Journal is doing it differently. In a new ad campaign, the Journal basically says: Unlike the rest of the mainstream news media, we're fair, and we saw Trump's election coming.

"Not everyone was blindsided by this year's presidential election result. Over 2 million Wall Street Journal subscribers, whether they were excited about the outcome, or nervous about it, were ready," editor in chief Gerard Baker says in the TV ad.

"Because unlike so many news organizations," Baker says, taking a jab at his rivals, "the Wall Street Journal covered this election the way we've been covering elections for the past 127 years: Objectively, and across the whole nation."

Baker doesn't name any names, but one of the readers interviewed on camera says she learned more from the Journal's "Great Unraveling" series of articles than she did from the Times.

Another reader is shown saying that the Journal prepared them that "this vote could go either way." (The readers were paid to participate in the ad.)

The ad campaign plays on the fact that most Americans were expecting Hillary Clinton to defeat Trump on Election Day -- and urges people to subscribe for the Journal's coverage of Trump's first 100 days in office.

"Immediately after the election, there was a sense from many people, that they felt unprepared and had been misguided by other news outlets into thinking that the election's end result was an impossibility," Suzi Watford, the Journal's CMO, told CNNMoney. "We always want Journal readers to feel prepared for any outcome."

The ads started appearing on the Fox News and Fox Business cable channels two weeks after the election. Those channels and the Journal are both controlled by the Murdoch family.

"We are looking at other options as well," Watford said.

Similar print and digital ads are running on Dow Jones sites. The ad campaign will continue through Inauguration Day.

While the ads emphasize the Journal's fairness -- implying other big papers and web sites are unfair to Trump -- there has been considerable tension in the Journal newsroom about the organization's coverage of the president-elect.

What some reporters see as neutrality, others see as weakness. Politico has repeatedly quoted newsroom sources expressing concern about the coverage.

In the TV ad, Baker says: "We were tough on both the main candidates. We didn't endorse either of them."

The Journal editorial board, which is separate from the newsroom, abstained from an endorsement in the presidential race. The Times and virtually all other newspaper editorial boards endorsed Clinton.

Trump has been critical of the Journal editorial board anyway, recently telling Fox News' Chris Wallace that "they don't understand business."

Trump's insults of other news outlets have been turned into ads -- Vanity Fair ran a banner last week urging people to subscribe to the magazine "Trump doesn't want you to read" -- but the Journal is taking a more measured approach.

Baker's conclusion in the ad: "Where you get your news from has never mattered more. So make sure you're ready, with our robust and comprehensive coverage of President Trump's first 100 days."

Watford said many of the paper's marketing efforts will revolve around "amplifying our coverage paired with the full value of a Journal membership."


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