Spouses Peter Kann and Karen Elliott House Announce Departure Plans

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NEW YORK ( -- Ending the long-held speculation that Karen Elliott House would succeed her husband, Peter Kann, as CEO of Dow Jones, both Ms. Elliott House and Mr. Kann will leave the company within the next year.
Peter R. Kann and Karen Elliott House

Richard Zannino
Dow Jones senior management will turnover Feb. 1, when Mr. Kann will resign his post and Richard Zannino, currently exec VP and chief operating officer, will take over Dow Jones, parent company of The Wall Street Journal, the second-largest paper in the U.S. Ms. Elliot House, the Journal's publisher, is also leaving the paper.

Mr. Kann will also retire as chairman at the annual meeting in 2007, when he reaches mandatory retirement age of 65. He has been with the company since 1991. Ms. Elliott House joined the Journal in 1974 as a reporter and won a Pulitzer Prize in 1984 for her Middle East reporting before moving up the company ladder. Under Ms. Elliott House, the Journal debuted a weekend edition. No successor has been named.

Media speculation
Media watchers have been expecting Mr. Kann, who is 63, to retire in the next couple years, and his most widely speculated successor has been Ms. Elliott House, 58. She has shrugged off rumors of such a move, which is complicated by the fact they are married.

As for Ms. Elliott House's replacement, a spokeswoman said her post will be redefined.

“Karen's role will not be filled in its current form. Rich will be working with the board and other top management on the future structure,” a Dow Jones spokeswoman said in an email. “It is likely that the role of a standalone print publisher will be diminished going forward. This is not meant to diminish the importance -- at all -- of the print Wall Street Journal going forward. It remains the biggest driver of our success.”

Mr. Zannino came to Dow Jones in February 2001 as chief financial officer. A year later he was upped to COO. Before Dow Jones, he logged business development and finance experience at Liz Claiborne, General Sign Corp. and Saks Holdings.

The Journal, like other newspapers, has been trying to bolster profits amidst a difficult circulation environment. In November, the Newspaper Association of America’s semi-annual circulation report said the paper’s circulation fell 1.1% to nearly 2.1 million.

WSJ's online success
But while the Journal’s circulation may be falling, its subscription-based online strategy remains one of its key strengths, and has led competitors, such as The New York Times, to create premium content programs. With about 764,000 subscribers, it is the largest paid-subscription news site online. Year-long access costs $49 for print subscribers and $99 for nonsubscribers.

Dow Jones also announced it improved fourth-quarter guidance, attributed to the Journal and its electronic publishing business, to be around 40 cents per share before special items.

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