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"I quite quickly as a reporter and then as an editor was thinking proactively about what it could do to my business and my day-to-day job," Latour recalled. "The urgency of getting things out with proper analysis during the day, rather than stroke my chin and think about it—I personally started doing that very early on."
Latour will draw on that experience in his new role as managing editor of The Wall Street Journal Online. Latour, formerly bureau chief of the technology group based in New York, said part of his mission will be to help the Journal adjust internally to the new realities of the news-gathering business so readers are able to access a fully integrated print and online experience.
"Reporters throughout the Journal are increasingly aware—and will become more aware—of the opportunities that online offers: reaching a constituency of readers very fast, and getting feedback and telling stories in different ways," he said. "There's more than one way to take on a story."
Over the past year, WSJ.com has introduced 15 blogs. Two highly successful blogs that Latour would like to replicate are the Juggle, which deals with work-life balance, and a law blog. Each can generate up to 50 reader comments on popular posts.
Last month, the company said traffic generated by blogs covering politics and technology helped increase year-over-year page views at WSJ.com by 22% in August.
"I do believe we can reach out to a vast audience that perhaps up until today we perhaps haven't reached out to," he said. "We can touch audiences more deeply than we are today."
Reporters also are bringing video cameras with them on assignments to increase the number of video reports. But the Journal doesn't want to offer video just for video's sake, so the video must be comparable in quality to the print journalism product, Latour said. Online users are encouraged to embed WSJ.com content in their own blogs, too.
Rupert Murdoch, whose News Corp. is purchasing Journal parent Dow Jones & Co., hasn't decided whether to ax the Journal's online subscription fee but has said he is leaning toward discontinuing it. Last month, The New York Times dropped its paid subscription service, in part because of the amount of traffic sent to its site via search engines. WSJ.com had 983,000 subscribers during the second quarter.
Latour declined to discuss the pros and cons of subscription fees but noted, "People are coming to us in ways they didn't before and we need to be cognizant of that fact."
Latour has been with the company since he joined The Wall Street Journal Europe in Brussels in 1995.