Wall Street Journal moves from news delivery to interpretation

With the redesign of The Wall Street Journal, publisher Dow Jones & Co. is looking not just for a prettier face, but also introducing a new model for print journalism.

The paper’s getting more color on its front page; it’s getting narrower with a 48-inch web width; the font’s slightly bigger, resulting in 10 percent less editorial; the “What’s News” column moves to the two columns on the left; there’s a spot for a display ad on the bottom right – a first for the front page; and the banner above the Journal logo is far more contemporary and almost European.

“There will be more headlines with ‘will’ and ‘why,’ signaling we’re going beyond when and what happened yesterday,” L. Gordon Crovitz, publisher of the print Wall Street Journal, told reporters Dec. 4 at an event organized at the Pierpont Morgan Library in New York.

Indeed, 50 percent of the Journal’s articles already are focused on interpreting the news and analysis. That ratio of analysis versus news will now go up to 80 percent, according to Paul E. Steiger, a 40-year veteran of the Journal and its current managing editor.

The Journal’s online sibling at www.wsj.com will focus more on covering events of the day along with the Dow Jones Newswires, while the paper will focus on what the news means instead of what happen. Which means that straightforward disclosure news and announcements will be squeezed into shorter articles.

In another change aimed at improving reader friendliness, the five articles from the front page will jump together to a page before the editorial page. All the other articles inside the newspaper will jump to the following page.

The changes go into effect Jan. 2. The New York-based publisher that day will distribute 500,000 copies of the Journal free of cost at newsstands to enable sampling. It will also throw open WSJ.com that day to non-subscribers.

Combined, the print and online editions have a circulation of 2.1 million. The online Journal itself has 800,000 subscribers.

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