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Fourth-quarter ad linage at Dow Jones & Co. flagship The Wall Street Journal will be down about 40% this year, but the company's top executives sought to take some sting from those numbers by announcing a raft of changes for the Journal at the Credit Suisse First Boston Media Week conference Dec. 6.

Beginning April 9, 2002, the Journal will redesign-for the first time since World War II-its classic front page, joining virtually every other major daily newspaper by being printed in color. The format of the page is also expected to change.

The paper will also add a "Personal Journal" section Tuesday through Thursday, aimed at addressing at what Dow Jones CEO Peter Kann said was "the second shift" of its readers' lives, by covering travel, health, careers and personal electronics, among other topics.

"It's not a soft, feature-oriented package," promised Mr. Kann, but rather one focusing on "relevance."

Mr. Kann also said the community daily unit, Ottaway Newspapers, had been "looked hard" at by the company last summer. He said the company expected to acquire papers that would leverage off its existing holdings. It has retained an unidentified newspaper broker to solicit deals involving properties close to its 20 papers. The deals may include purchases and sales or swaps.

Mr. Kann cautioned the company "may be a net seller" at the outset of the process, but left the impression that the company's commitment to the unit, which had been questioned by analysts in recent years, was firm.

Mr. Kann said the company had begun showing its redesign-which the company did not unveil at the conference-to advertisers, along with non-disclosure agreements, in recent weeks. Gag slides illustrating the redesign as being similar to, variously, the tabloid Weekly World News or a glossy fashion magazine ("317 Sexy Stock Tips!") are likely to surface in future ad campaigns, said a spokesman.

Spending associated with increasing color and page capacity of the Journal cost the company $225 million over a period of four years. A redesign of WSJ.com will cost about another $28 million, said a spokesman.

After the company's presentation, Mr. Kann was asked if the Journal's trademark portraits would now appear in color.

"Let's leave that as part of the surprise," he said.

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