The Wall Street Journal plans yet another makeover

By Rajiv Shankar | 05 Dec 2006


The Wall Street Journal, mandatory reading for businessmen and bankers, has unveiled new plans to spread its appeal to newer, younger readers.

To start with, it plans to cut the size of the newspaper to a more compact 12-inch page width, reduce pages and simultaneously revamp its website edition, which has a paid subscriber base of 731,000.

The slim, new-look print edition of the paper is due to be launched in the US on 2 January, 2007, and is expected to save $18 million (approximately Rs80.67 crore) a year.

In a signed letter to the readers on the WSJ Online, publisher L Gordon Crovitz explained the rationale for the change as, " Every day in print and throughout the day online, the reporters and editors of The Wall Street Journal document how the increasing expectations of consumers affect virtually every industry and company.

"The media industry is no exception. Consumers of information have many choices, often through new digital and online technologies. Journal readers are the world's most demanding consumers of business news and financial information, so we at the Journal must constantly look for ways to meet and, we hope, exceed your expectations."

In October 2005 as well, the paper and its sister publication, The Asian Wall Street Journal had changed their format from a traditional upmarket broadsheet to a tabloid, in response to, as Dow Jones had then said, the growing trend across Europe.

The change in format was also accompanied by a rechristening of the Asian edition to The Wall Street Journal Asia, while in Europe it was called The Wall Street Journal Europe. All the editions are aimed at business readers.

This year's revamp, says finance news specialist Dow Jones, the publishers of the print publications and web edition WSJ Online, and, has said that the smaller size would reduce space for news by 10 per cent.

It will shift more breaking news stories to its website, WSJ Online, while the WSJ, as the print edition is popularly referred to, would carry more analysis, more colour and shorter news stories.

Last year, the change of format was accompanied by shifting content and statistical data to WSJ Online. The move had then helped save annual production costs by $17 million.

A year before shrinking the paper, in November 2004 Dow Jones had strengthened WSJ's web presence through WSJ Online by acquiring the financial market site MarketWatch for $519 million, outbidding Yahoo! and the New York Times, with an eye to merging and scaling down editorial and back-office staff to save an estimated $12 million a year.

The acquisition brought in a combined viewership, according to Dow Jones, of over 9 million unique visitors a month. And, since advertisers want as many eyeballs, or viewers, as possible the acquisition created more online advertising space available for Dow Jones.

To induce readers to subscribe to the print and the online editions, it introduced a new joint-subscription for readers that enables them to receive a daily copy of The Wall Street Journal and also access the newspaper's online edition for a single subscription.

In recent years the print edition of the WSJ in the US has witnessed a decline in its circulation and it is keen to attract a newer, young, professional readership to its ranks.

Crovitz quoted managing editor Paul Steiger to explain the change in content as, "Today perhaps a bit over half of our news space is devoted to exclusive, differentiated information and the rest to essentially what happened the day before. Our goal is to move to 80 per cent exclusive news, with 20 per cent making sure you're aware of the key developments of the previous day."

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