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Lex Fenwick Ousted as News Corp Questions Strategy

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Lex Fenwick, the fast-talking, splashy news executive who left Bloomberg LP in 2012 to remake News Corp.'s (NWSA) business and institutional services group, has left the company.

Fenwick, the chief executive of Dow Jones & Co., was replaced on an interim basis by William Lewis, News Corp. CEO Robert Thomson said in a statement Tuesday. New York-based News Corp, which owns The Wall Street Journal, intends to use Fenwick's departure to review its "institutional strategy," the company said.

"We thank Lex for his time and energy at the helm of Dow Jones, and in particular for his original vision of DJX as an innovative way to integrate content and deliver it to customers in a timely manner," Thomson said.

Fenwick, who worked at Bloomberg for 25 years before losing an internal power struggle at the company, came to News Corp. with the intention of building a data-driven news product capable of competing with his former employer for high-end institutional investors and corporate clients. But after nearly two years, the project, called DJX, remains in a beta stage and has been hit with critical reviews. A start date is set for later this year, the company said.

"We're reviewing the institutional strategy of Dow Jones with an eye towards changes that will deliver even more value to its customers," Thomson said in the statement. "As part of that, we're planning improvements to DJX."

The change in leadership at Dow Jones, which News Corp acquired from the Bancroft Family, the longtime owners of the Journal, for $5 billion. Rupert Murdoch, the chairman of News Corp, made that deal, now widely recognized as having been purchased just as the newspaper industry was imploding, to compete head-to-head with the New York Times. 

Yet efforts to create a New York-focused section within the Journal has largely failed to gain traction with readers let alone chip away at the Times' undeniable position as the leading voice within the U.S. newspaper industry. Fenwick's inability to lay the foundation for a revenue generating enterprise comes as two of News Corp's properties, the New York Post and the Times of London, continue to lose money.

Fenwick reign at Dow Jones was further complicated by employee turnover, a sign of general dissatisfaction with the unit's CEO.

"We've seen a profound exodus of top Wall Street Journal execs and much change in management overall - and limited new product development," the Outsell analyst Ken Doctor wrote in a Jan. 12 report.

News Corp. said DJX would be repackaged with greater flexibility, a reference to Lenwick's decision to offer the product at a fixed price, similar to how Bloomberg leases its data and information terminal. Lenwick unified Dow Jones' Factiva information service with the newswire

Lewis, who joined News Corp. in 2012 from the Telegraph Media Group in the UK, will serve as interim CEO of Dow Jones while a search takes place for his replacement. News Corp was split in June as the film and television assets were split from the legacy print properties to create 21st Century Fox (FOXA).

--By Leon Lazaroff in New York.

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