Despite so many recent signs that Dow Jones (NYSE:DJ) has been trying to sharpen its strategy, it seems the short term remains a bit rocky. On Tuesday, the newspaper publisher warned that its third quarter will fall short of previous expectations.

Dow Jones said that third-quarter earnings will come in at $0.08 to $0.11 per share, as opposed to the $0.14 per share analysts had expected. Take a wild guess about the culprit -- September advertising revenues. Apparently they have been slower than expected at the company's flagship Wall Street Journal, lagging both analysts' expectations and last year's figures.

Personally, I'm not too surprised to hear news like this -- just yesterday, Yahoo! (NASDAQ:YHOO) warned about its upcoming quarter, disclosing that advertising in certain categories has been weak recently. You could argue that I'm comparing apples to oranges, since Yahoo! is talking online advertising, while Dow Jones has its foot in both the online and print worlds. Nonetheless, online advertising has been so strong, offsetting print advertising's weaknesses, that I can't help but wonder whether the situations are related.

I believe that with the economy a bit dicey lately, and growing concerns about the slowing housing market and consumer spending, companies may be more conservative about their advertising budgets. It should be interesting to see how other ad-dependent media companies fare in this environment, particularly rivals like The New York Times (NYSE:NYT), Washington Post (NYSE:WPO), and Gannett (NYSE:GCI) fare.

On the other hand, Dow Jones said it expects ad revenue for WSJ to increase in the fourth quarter. That may prove to be a crucial period for many companies with a strong reliance on advertising of all types.

Of all the newspaper stocks, I've long considered Dow Jones one of the strongest, with its national presence, business and finance focus, strong online properties, and well-respected brands like WSJ, Barron's, and MarketWatch. However, it has also tended to be among the priciest as well. Its P/E ratio of 19, especially given the possibility of a slowing economy and decreased ad sales, makes me think that now's not the optimum time to consider purchasing shares of Dow Jones.

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Fool contributor Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned. The Fool's disclosure policy is all the news that's fit to print.