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'Wall Street Journal' unveils major revamp

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Dow Jones & Co. last week unveiled the long-anticipated, major redesign of its flagship Wall Street Journal. The new look will debut Jan. 2.

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 jettisoned, 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 tend to use words such as "how" and "why" to signify 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.

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, with 785,000 subscribers, will also be accessible for free that day.

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," he said.

Crovitz said that as a result of the changes there will be a "modest" increase in ad rates, but lower than the 6% gain in readership the Journal has had this year.

The Journal's overall circulation fell 1.9% in the six months ended Sept. 30, compared with the same period in 2005, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations. Ad revenue for the Journal rose 5.7% in October on a 1.8% increase in ad volume.

Scott Berg, worldwide media director for Hewlett-Packard Co., who has seen some of the Journal's mock-ups, said, "It creates a better user experience, which might bump up the circulation."

Dow Jones is betting that the change in format?plus a much stronger emphasis on integrated ad sales?will attract more b-to-b advertisers.

"There will be many more ad units and adjacencies for every kind of b-to-b advertiser," Crovitz said, adding that as part of the redesign the Journal will have standard ad units as opposed to "line units."

Crovitz said both b-to-b advertisers and ad agencies have expressed interest in two new columns: "Informed Reader," which will run in the "Marketplace" section, and "Today's Agenda," which will run in the front section. The "Corporate Focus" column is moving to the front section from "Money & Investing."

The changes also include a new Markets Data Center online that will draw content from various Dow Jones properties, including Barron's and MarketWatch.com.

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