Wall Street Journal shutters Boston bureau

Apparently no one told Rupert Murdoch that the recession is over. Murdoch's Wall Street Journal (NWS) is closing its Boston bureau, according to a memo sent out Thursday by managing editor Robert Thomson.

"The economic background to the closure is painfully obvious to us all," wrote Thomson, adding that the nine reporters who worked in the bureau "will certainly be able to apply for openings elsewhere on the paper."

The last layoffs at the Journal took place in February, when the paper eliminated 14 newsroom positions. So far, it has avoided making deeper cuts of the sort that have afflicted most large U.S. newspapers, including The New York Times, which recently announced its second wave of newsroom downsizing.

In related news, Forbes is closing its Los Angeles bureau, and possibly the one in London as well, amid a round of cost-cutting that's expected to claim around 100 jobs total.

Here's Thomson's full memo:

From: Thomson, Robert
Sent: Thursday, October 29, 2009 11:26 AM
Subject: Boston


Today we told our team in Boston that we are closing the bureau in its present form. The economic background to the closure is painfully obvious to us all. An investigative function will remain in Boston, but the core reporting team will be disbanded, though all nine reporters affected will certainly be able to apply for openings elsewhere on the paper. Coverage of the Boston mutual fund industry will switch to the Money and Investing team and we are creating an enhanced New York-based education team.

Any such decision inevitably stirs apprehension and uncertainty, but there are no plans, nascent or otherwise, to close any other U.S. or international bureau. Meanwhile, the Newswires bureau and the MarketWatch team in Boston will remain at their present staffing levels.

That there has been truly great reporting under the generalship of Gary Putka out of Boston over many, many years is not in doubt. But we remain in the midst of a profound downturn in advertising revenue and thus must think the unthinkable.

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