The Biz: The verdict is in ...

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It took years, hundreds of millions of dollars in new equipment, 32 focus groups and unprecedented internal secrecy-but this is not another story about Michael Jackson's "Invincible," it's another story about the redesigned Wall Street Journal! The revamped business bible hit newsstands April 9 with the first changes to its iconic front page in 60 years, and a new section-the service-y "Personal Journal." What do the cognoscenti think? Ad Age contacted print buyers, designers and grizzled newspaper veterans to find out.

Al Neuharth, founder USA Today, former chairman-CEO Gannett Co.:

"They're fairly gentle steps. The pastel colors don't exactly grab you. And they are soft pastels. My hunch is we'll be seeing reds and greens and purples before too long. They're soft pastels, but that's a step in the right direction."

"While it is a very, very good financial newspaper, it has been difficult to read, and things have been difficult to find. What they're really saying is they're going to make it easier to read, easier to find things."

"The New York Times put on rouge and lipstick and look what it's done. Their circulation's gone up. The Journal's circulation's gone down."

John Korpics, design director, Esquire:

"It's smart for them to take small steps. Everyone else will perceive them as giant steps."

"Even though they're bringing color in, they're keeping a business palette. It's smart. That's who they are."

"It really does feel like it's bringing it into the 21st century. The old one-it almost looks a month old when it's brand new. It had a faded, gray quality."

"I like the fact they kept the [black and white portraits]. It's such a Wall Street Journal trademark. You don't want to throw everything away."

"They've got more clearly defined entry points. Like in `What's News,' instead of just the little asterisk between items, there's a big black square bullet-it's a little easier for my eye to catch."

Melissa Pordy, senior VP-director of print services, Zenith Media, New York:

"In a very elegant way it modernizes the paper, and it needed that. The world is not black and white."

(On the front page, and overall redesign): "It doesn't scream. The hype almost created some angst as to how this would play out. But there's no cause for quote-unquote alarm. In a very elegant way it modernizes the paper."

Charles Valan, VP-strategic print servicesInterpublic Group of Cos. Universal McCann, New York:

(On "What's News") "Your eyes always jump to color. `What's News' immediately draws your eye there."

"If nothing else, I'm going to read the front page, I'm going to go to `What's News,' and know how I'm going to get started."

Mary Ann Foxley, exec VP-chief investment officer, Starcom Worldwide:

"It's clean. It's lightened up. I don't think it's so extreme it's going to alienate current readers."

"The increased white space I like-it makes it feel less heavy."

Pam McNeely, senior VP-group media director, Dailey & Associates, Los Angeles:

(On the cleaner front page) "This is so funny-so typically West Coast-but I find the style of The New York Times incredibly hard to read. All these different fonts and italics going on." But the new Journal front page "maintains its purity, and cleaned it up a bit."

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