Smart Money to halt print publication

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Dow Jones & Co. plans to stop publishing the print version of SmartMoney, a personal finance magazine, although it will expand its digital platform, according to two people familiar with the matter, reports John Jannarone and William Launder of The Wall Street Journal.

Jannarone and Launder write, “Layoffs are expected, but the number of positions to be eliminated is unclear, one of these people said. An official announcement could come as soon as Thursday.”

Read more here.

In an e-mail to the Journal staff obtained by Talking Biz News, managing editor Robert Thomson wrote, “Our colleagues at SmartMoney magazine have done extraordinary work during the past two decades and we should laud their contribution to the company and to journalism generally. Our SmartMoney web operation will be expanded and provide opportunities for some who will be affected by the closure of the magazine, as will other just-approved expansion plans for the print Journal.”

SmartMoney has struggled more than the other personal finance magazines. In the first quarter of this year, it had a 19.3 percent decline in ad revenue to $6.9 million and a 23.4 percent drop in ad pages to 67.42. Money magazine had a 9.3 percent decline in ad revenue to $20.8 million and a 13.7 percent decline in ad pages to 91.79. Kiplinger’s Personal Finance recorded a 30.9 percent drop in ad revenue to $3.7 million and a 33.8 percent drop in ad pages to 53.93.

The worst-performing business magazine in 2011 was SmartMoney. It reported a 12.9 percent drop in ad revenue to $32.7 million and a 17.4 percent decline in ad pages to 338.18.

In an e-mail to Talking Biz News Thursday afternoo, editor in chief Jonathan Dahl wrote, “I’m exploring options both in and outside the company. This was obviously disappointing but we had a fun, and fairly long run.”

Here is Talking Biz News’ interview with SmartMoney editor Dahl from December. Ironically, Dow Jones acquired Hearst’s remaining 50 percent interest in the magazine in 2010. The magazine won three National Magazine Awards and was a finalist 14 times.

Here is the bulk of the official announcement:

As part of the transition, the print edition of SmartMoney will cease production this summer, and the magazine’s September issue, on newsstands August 14, will be the final issue.

To expand the brand’s digital reach, the editorial staff of SmartMoney.com will increase to 15, including six new editorial staff positions. The New York-based team will report to Raju Narisetti, managing editor of The Wall Street Journal Digital Network.

Approximately 25 staff positions for the print edition are being impacted as part of the print magazine’s closing, with those affected eligible to re-apply for open positions with SmartMoney.com and other openings within the company.

“SmartMoney has led the way in personal finance coverage for 20 years. It has been honored with many awards and provided intelligent, objective analysis and guidance for readers in print and online. It’s clear that the volatility of markets and asset classes has increased the need for rapid delivery of personal finance intelligence, so we will be expanding our team and presence on the web,” said Robert Thomson, editor-in-chief of Dow Jones & Company and managing editor of The Wall Street Journal. “The team should be extremely proud of what it has achieved and be excited by the prospect of what it will achieve.”

“I am proud of the exceptional journalism that the hard-working and talented staff of SmartMoney has produced in recent years and am grateful to the Journal, and to Robert Thomson specifically, for providing us the opportunity to produce it,” said Jonathan Dahl, editor-in-chief of SmartMoney. “I look forward to seeing SmartMoney’s legacy continue at SmartMoney.com.”

In addition to SmartMoney.com, all content and tools from the site will be available on an expanded co-branded personal finance section on MarketWatch.com. This move also extends the digital reach of the SmartMoney brand to MarketWatch’s nearly 17 million monthly visitors from SmartMoney.com’s 2.5 million monthly visitors.