In 1977, sitting listening to the pirate Radio Caroline in my bedroom back home in Essex, England, I heard the news that Elvis Presley was dead. Last Wednesday, in our New York newsroom on Lafayette Street, I got the phone call I'd been half-expecting for some weeks: Dow Jones had decided to put its Dow Jones Markets unit to sleep.

Of course, we journalists love to be dramatic. But this really was a historic moment. By effectively pulling the plug on Ken Burenga's $650 million revamp plan, Dow Jones' board has given up on his dream of transforming the former Telerate into a full-service, global information provider to all market segments and user types.

This relegates Dow Jones Markets to the second-tier of market data vendors. And, as Dow Jones Markets' own analysis showed, if you're not everything to everybody, you might as well give up.

This is the sad end of Telerate. Without the kind of investment the Burenga Plan had laid out, it will continue to shrink in the face of serious competition from Reuters, Bloomberg and Bridge. Dow Jones' board knows this. I am sure they will now pursue vigorously a sale of the Markets unit.

In its announcement of its decision to halt its revamp plan, Dow Jones says there will be between 200 and 300 layoffs. These will hit the senior ranks as well as the little guys. Under the LIFO model, I expect to see a lot of the new people hired under the investment program this year heading for the door. At the top level, one has to wonder why a castrated Telerate would need such expensive talent as Jon Robson, Debra Isenberg or even Julian Childs.

Burenga will probably go back to Dow Jones corporate; Kann, it has been suggested, may be shunted upstairs, making way for youngbloods like Gordon Crovitz.

Or maybe someone from the outside. Sure, it's never been done before. But Dow Jones' board has been asleep for 30 years. This year it woke up (albeit to a fire ablaze in its lap). I think we can expect more change.

Whatever happens, this much is true: after so much effort and genuine achievement, what a shame.

-- Andrew P. Delaney

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