Media critic

On Friday, the Wall Street Journal’s Gerard Baker sent a memo to editorial staffers whose contours are familiar to those who work in the newspaper industry: “In order to limit the number of involuntary layoffs, we will be offering all news employees around the world – management and non-management – the option to elect to take an enhanced voluntary severance benefit,” wrote Baker.

Bad news.

The Wall Street Journal is one of several units in Dow Jones; others are Dow Jones Newswires, Factiva, Barron’s, MarketWatch and Financial News. Just what would happen to those other parts of the Dow Jones operation was a bit unclear. Timothy Martell, executive director of Independent Association of Publishers’ Employees 1096, which represents workers at Dow Jones, told the Erik Wemple Blog earlier this afternoon, “I don’t know if that means this is the only area of focus at this time or if they’re looking” at non-Wall Street Journal parts of Dow Jones as well.

Martell said that before 2:37 p.m. That’s when Ed Finn, editor and president of Barron’s, apparently committed a pretty serious email flub. He apparently set out to write a note to a few top officials at the company — including Almar Latour, publisher and executive vice president for Dow Jones Media Group — but instead forwarded the message to the entire Wall Street Journal newsroom. There was news in that message:

Almar, John, Mike,
The email Gerry Baker just sent about wsj buyouts says that dj is offering 1.5x the standard buyout package.
Are we planning to go to the employees we are laying off at Barron’s next week and offer them 1x the standard package. That could create some problems. Please advise.
Thanks and best,
Ed

Worse news.

“Now we know that at least Barron’s has plans for layoffs,” said Martell.

Barron’s needs no introduction, especially to the Erik Wemple Blog, who read the weekly investment paper as a youngster through our father’s longtime subscription. It was founded in 1921 and provides meaty coverage of business and market trends. Across the print, dot-com and Barron’s Asia operations, there are about 80 editorial personnel. It’s unclear from Finn’s misfiring email which departments of Barron’s these layoffs will strike.