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October 1, 1998

Wall Street Journal, Katz school gives MBA students access to info

For decades, business professors have required MBA students to subscribe to The Wall Street Journal.

More recently, students at Pitt's Katz Graduate School of Business and other schools have been doing research projects using data culled from basic on-line services offered by the Journal and its publisher, Dow Jones.

But this fall, through a unique new partnership between the Katz School and the Journal, Katz students gained free, unlimited access to all Dow Jones information resources — including databases formerly available only to professors, financial analysts, government officials and other people whose employers foot the bills.

Robert Nachtmann, professor of finance and director of Katz MBA programs, recalled tapping into the exhaustive Dow Jones News Retrieval Service during his days as a visiting economist at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

"We would run up bills on the order of $150,000 in producing a single study. Now, that's not the price that Dow Jones would charge an academic institution, but the fact is that our students now have access not only to the News Retrieval Service but also to Dow Jones's whole range of on-line services," Nachtmann said.

And it's not costing the Katz school a nickel. Nor will the school pay for thousands of dollars' worth of advertising, spotlighting the Katz-Wall Street Journal connection, that will appear on airport newsstand banners and the plastic sleeves in which the Journal is delivered to subscribers.

The ad theme is: "The Wall Street Journal and the Katz School of Business: Moving Theory and Evidence Into Practice." So what's the catch? And why did the Journal choose Pitt's business school? "To some extent, we've been asking ourselves those same questions," said Nachtmann, with a laugh.

According to the Journal's Greg Subotnik, feedback from Katz students and faculty will help the Journal fine-tune its electronic information services. "Katz administrators have already given us valuable feedback on things like our new digital products, and how we can customize them to better meet the needs of today's MBAs," Subotnik said. "With this partnership, we can become a total business resource for the University and other educational institutions." Pitt's Nachtmann said, "The Wall Street Journal is saying, in effect: We are a digital news provider, and the Katz MBA program needs timely, efficiently packaged information in order for their students to complete their degrees in 11 months,'" in contrast to traditional two-year programs. "'And look, the Katz school has chosen us as the supplier of their information products.' "The fact that our school conducts so many activities globally was another attraction, I think. The Journal wants to be a world supplier. They're going head-to-head with the Financial Times and other providers of digital news.

"Also, I think we're seen as being a bit less staid," Nachtmann added, "a bit more entrepreneurial and risk-taking than other MBA programs may be." The Katz school will have an exclusive partnership with the Journal for the next year, but eventually the newspaper may establish similar relationships with other business schools.

Journal executives, editors and reporters will lecture and lead seminars at the Katz school. "How often we'll bring them in depends on their schedules, but we're hoping for about a half-dozen [visits] a year," Nachtmann said.

As for free ads, cash registers at airport-based W.H. Smith newsstands soon will display signs advertising the Katz-Journal partnership. "The Journal folks claim that 9 million people will be seeing those things every year," Nachtmann said.

About three weeks from now, Wall Street Journal subscribers in western Pennsylvania, eastern Ohio and West Virginia will begin receiving their Journals packaged in blue, gold and white plastic sleeves promoting the Katz school.

On one side of the sleeve will appear unchanging promotional art. What appears on the other side will vary.

"To begin with, there will be a daily question posed by a Katz school student," Nachtmann said. "Each question will be based on the editorial content of The Wall Street Journal. If you're a Journal subscriber and you bother to read the plastic bag it's delivered in, and you want to learn the answer to that day's question, you'll be advised to check out the Katz website. The address will appear on the bag.

"When you call up our website, there will be the answer to the question, the name and picture of the student who posed it, and information about that student's area of study and what type of employment he or she eventually will be seeking.

"In the future, there may be blurbs on the bags about research findings at the Katz school or faculty analyses of items in the news. Again, people will be directed to check out our website for more information." Katz administrators hope some Journal subscribers will browse further on the website — like, for enrollment information.

In special cases, Katz administrators may target subscribers in cities throughout the United States, Nachtmann said. "For example, if our dean [Frederick Winter] is scheduled to visit Chicago for a conference or alumni event, we can program the Journal to arrive at the homes of Chicago subscribers that week in these special Katz school sleeves," he said.

— Bruce Steele

Filed under: Feature,Volume 31 Issue 3

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