DOW JONES BACKS BLACK WEEKLY;NEWSPAPER AIMS TO BE THE LARGEST OF ITS KIND WITHIN THREE YEARS OF START-UP IN JULY

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Dow Jones & Co. is putting its printing, distribution and marketing muscle behind a planned national black weekly newspaper that's one of the most ambitious publishing projects targeting African-Americans, Advertising Age has learned.

Baltimore-based Our World News is slated to publish in July with an initial circulation of 100,000 to 125,000. Dow Jones, publisher of The Wall Street Journal, is believed to have committed at least $1 million to the launch.

"We're aiming it at the 1.2 million black households with median incomes above $50,000," said Our World News CEO Don Miller, who retired last year as a Dow Jones VP. Mr. Miller is attempting to raise $20 million for the launch from his own funds and outside investors including Dow Jones.

"We hope to provide a mechanism whereby all the voices of black America can be heard," he said.

AMBITIOUS GOALS

His ambitious aims: profitability and a circulation of 350,000 within three years. If met, the weekly would become the largest black U.S. newspaper and would be smaller than only a handful of black magazines.

Dow Jones VP-Marketing Bernard Flanagan flew to Detroit last week to present an early prototype of Our World News to automotive marketers and advertising agencies. Early reviews were favorable, although it's not known if ad commitments were made.

"We were impressed with what we saw," said Cheryl Harps, exec VP-media director at Detroit-based Don Coleman & Associates, which handles black media for Chrysler Corp.

SCRAMBLING TO TAP IN

Dow Jones is far from the only publisher scrambling to tap into the African-American market and its estimated $330 billion spending power. Last weekend saw the debut of BET Weekend, a quarterly magazine published through an alliance between the New York Daily News and Black Entertainment Television, which also publishes YSB and Emerge.

BET Weekend was distributed in eight newspapers, reaching an estimated 800,000 households in predominantly black neighborhoods.

"We hope to quickly hit 1 million circulation and then go to monthly and ultimately weekly distribution," said Publisher Debra Lee.

There were 12 ad pages in the 32-page launch issue from marketers including Miller Brewing Co., Home Box Office, American Express Co. and Tower Records. The cost per color page is $26,000.

The African-American population is projected to grow 21% to 40 million by the year 2010, according to the U.S. Bureau of the Census, making up 13.4% of the overall population.

Belle, a new quarterly lifestyle magazine for full-figured black women, will have its fourth issue on newsstands in April with ads from Revlon, General Mills, Black Opal and others. And Health Quest, a 100,000-circulation health magazine, just upped frequency to six times a year from quarterly.

Time Inc., which successfully launched the urban culture magazine Vibe, is considering a business plan for an upscale black lifestyle magazine dubbed Savoy.

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