The Australian-born media tycoon, who has been battered in recent weeks by the snowballing UK tabloid phone-hacking scandal, is set to launch his online edition in late November or early December, the Swiss business daily Tagesanzeiger reported.
The bold move will shake up the German-speaking media market and constitute a full-frontal assault on the current web leaders for business news, the Financial Times Deutschland and Handelsblatt. It will target all the German-speaking areas – not just Germany but also Austria and German-speaking parts of Switzerland.
The German WSJ will begin as an online service only. It will initially be free but will begin after some time to charge for some content, though what payment model will be used is yet to be decided, the the Tagesanzeiger reported.
It is unclear whether there will later be a print edition.
Industry insiders said Dow Jones, which publishes the WSJ, would spend about €15 million to kickstart the online venture.
“This is the biggest project cost for Dow Jones this year,” said a senior editor at the WSJ.
It will employ about 40 people, who are being recruited at the moment. Murdoch’s deep pockets and Dow Jones existing network of journalists will give the new online paper a strong advantage over competitors the FTD and Handelsblatt.
“We want to fill a hole in the German market and bring in content from the Anglo-American and Latin American regions, where German correspondents are not for most part well-established,” a Dow Jones editor said. “The Financial Times Deutschland for example is a purely German product.
Some of the stories will be taken from Dow Jones’ existing network and translated into German. The rest will come from the new team of journalists in Germany.