Grytte Newspaper Staff Tours Wall Street Journal with Alum Columnist

On May 20, the Grytte student newspaper staff took an afternoon walk to 1211 Avenue of the Americas, offices of The Wall Street Journal, Barron’s and other products of Dow Jones and Company. Accompanied by Grytte Advisor Jeremy Katz ’04, who took the photographs for this story, the boys were greeted by Browning alumnus and WSJ columnist Ralph Gardner, Jr. ’71, who arranged for a special tour of the newsroom with WSJ’s night editor, Wade Lambert. Director of Alumni Affairs Laura Lanigan and Director of Publications Melanie McMahon were pleased to join the group. Ms. Lanigan and Mr. Katz helped arrange and guide this terrific field trip, while Ms. McMahon offers the following report:

Mr. Lambert, who has been with the paper since 1984 and, explained how the pages and sections of the newspaper are created, adding some behind-the-scenes humor by admitting that when deadlines are missed, lots of shouting and yelling replaces the usual quiet. A triathlete, he also revealed that he starts his day with a run or swim before heading to the office. He answered the  boys’ numerous questions in detail, including queries about deadlines, how the paper is laid out and where it is printed, how it has changed in content over the years, how long it may take to write certain stories, the fact that news is delivered in print as well as in digital format, etc. He noted that today’s WSJ covers much more than financial topics; in fact, the paper has expanded its coverage in arts, culture, sports, lifestyle and politics. “Mr. Gardner’s column, Urban Gardner, is an excellent example of what I’m referring to,” said Mr. Lambert.

Carolyn Buck then took over as tour guide, offering a wealth of information on WSJ’s history and awards, including 35 Pulitzer Prizes that are proudly displayed. She pointed out that through the years, the font of the WSJ mast has not changed. Ms. Buck explained that WSJ, founded in 1889 (one year after the founding of Browning!) is the largest daily newspaper in the U.S., measured by paid circulation, for both weekday and weekend. Features are supplemented with blogs and digital content via WSJ.com, launched in 1996 (provided by 12 locally edited sites in six languages with 36 million global digital visitors per month), and its online video initiative, WSJ Live. The boys also learned that Dow Jones Newswires publishes more than 19,000 daily news items and that Barron’s magazine, while covering the financial markets, differs from the WSJ in that it is entirely dedicated to investing and forecasting. Fifty of the most recent covers of Barron’s grace another wall of the building.

While the newsroom and the action that takes place there is obviously crucial, advertisers and subscribers are just as important. To that end, the boys heard from Director of Circulation Roberta Meo and Manager of Circulation Josephine Yu who addressed circulation, retention, ad sales, and pricing of their products. They described the typical WSJ print subscriber as older, affluent and highly educated. The challenge, they said, is to focus on winning younger subscribers through the digital version of the paper and retain print subscribers with engaging content.

One of the more somber moments of the entire tour occurred when Ms. Buck showed the group the memorial for reporter Daniel “Danny” Pearl, a WSJ foreign correspondent who was slain at the hands of militants in Pakistan. The WSJ has noted that this tragedy “also sparked efforts to build on Danny’s ideals of tolerance and understanding across cultures.”

The Grytte staff extends a huge thanks to everyone involved in making this tour such an informative and enjoyable one! Ms. Lanigan notes that both Mr. Gardner and Mr. Lambert had fun, too, and were impressed with the Browning boys: “I was happy to see how engaged the boys were,” said Mr. Gardner. “Browning should have a bright future with such bright students and future alums.” Mr. Lambert echoed those sentiments and added, “It was a pleasure to meet you and the students from The Browning School today. I hope they enjoyed the tour, and please send them my best wishes for their academic pursuits. They seem like a wonderful group of students, all with bright futures ahead of them.” Ms. Buck was also impressed. “It was such a treat to give a tour to all of the boys,” she said. “What a kind group! It really meant so much to me to hear the excitement and enthusiasm in all of their questions.”