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Dow Jones sees ‘Journal’ redesign as a way to cut costs, attract ads

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Aiming to cut costs and spur more alignment between print and online, Dow Jones & Co. Monday unveiled a comprehensive redesign of its flagship, The Wall Street Journal. The changes will debut with the Jan. 2 issue.

There will be several physical changes to the Journal. It will shrink in width by three inches to an industry standard 12 inches, reducing the space devoted to news by 10%. Its length will remain 22.75 inches. The narrower width has been designed to make the Journal easier to carry.

The news feature column that currently runs down the left side of the page will be eliminated, and the “What’s News” summary columns will be enhanced.

The newspaper will feature new typography. Stories in the print edition will be tighter, with summary boxes providing story highlights. Headlines will more often use words such as “how” and “why” to signify to readers more in-depth analysis in news stories. Longer, more detailed stories will run on WSJ.com, which will soon introduce exclusive new offerings on personal wealth and work and family.

Dow Jones has positioned the redesign to reflect dramatic changes in how—and where—business executives consume news. With more people tracking headlines and spot coverage on the Web, there will be an increasing focus in the Journal’s print edition on interpretation and insight.

As a result of the redesign, there will be significant changes in Dow Jones’ newsgathering operations.

A new group has been created to coordinate news coverage. Staffers at Dow Jones Newswires handle all breaking news stories for Dow Jones Newswires, the print edition of the Journal and WSJ.com. Reporters at WSJ.com will focus more on online products such as blogs, videos and podcasts. Print reporters will “focus their efforts on interpretive and longer-form journalism,” according to a memo last week to Wall Street Journal staffers. Any “value-added” material developed by print reporters will be posted immediately online and not held for the next print edition, the memo said.

The redesign is expected to save $18 million a year in newsprint costs, said L. Gordon Crovitz, publisher of the Journal and exec VP of Dow Jones. “We’re still going to be focused on scoops, facts and ideas, and committed to the substance that our readers expect above all else,” Crovitz said.

Reed Phillips, managing partner at media investment bank DeSilva & Phillips, said the redesign of the Journal, along with the accompanying changes, could serve as a new business model for media companies.

“They seem to be taking a fresh approach on where to go with the Journal and are not overly focused on the legacy of the brand,” he said.

Asked about the Journal’s efforts to better align print and online, Phillips said: “It’s not a proven model, but it’s a logical model in that you want to get the information to your readers when and where they want it, throughout the day.”

To publicize the redesign, the Journal will be offered free at newsstands nationwide on the day of the launch. WSJ.com, the largest paid news site online, will also be accessible for free that day.

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