Top Two U.S. Newspapers Want to Be in Magazines

Exclusive: USA Today, WSJ Set to Add Glossies and Affluent Advertising

By Published on .

NEW YORK ( -- Both The Wall Street Journal and USA Today are developing glossy magazines for distribution within their traditional newsprint flagships, according to company executives and media buyers familiar with the work. If they succeed, the projects will point to one of magazines' advantages in the digital age: That a coterie of beauty, fashion and other lifestyle advertisers are happier to spend money if their ads appear on thick, glossy pages.
Susan C. Lavington, senior VP-marketing, USA Today, said that a targeted monthly magazine makes sense given that the paper covers such a wide variety of topics on a daily basis.
Susan C. Lavington, senior VP-marketing, USA Today, said that a targeted monthly magazine makes sense given that the paper covers such a wide variety of topics on a daily basis.

The Journal's development process hasn't reached the point of official presentations or proposals to parties such as Richard F. Zannino, CEO at parent Dow Jones, or the ad-sales team. The basic idea now being fleshed out, however, envisions a Saturday delivery with the "Weekend Edition" that would offer yet more lifestyle editorial for affluence.

A Rupert Murdoch deal for Dow Jones could, of course, scramble or stall initiatives across the board if it happens. But Mr. Murdoch has already told The New York Times he'd consider turning the Journal's Pursuits section into a glossy weekend competitor to the Times Magazine. The Journal declined to comment for this article.

Lifestyles mag
USA Today is much further along, planning an October introduction for a monthly magazine that will focus on active lifestyles, meaning lots of articles about pursuits such as jogging, traveling, kayaking and hiking, said Susan C. Lavington, the paper's senior VP-marketing. "We felt like, given our brand, the fact that we have this broad appeal and are known for covering a lot of different things, it seemed like a good idea to try to launch a magazine that would target this approach," she said.

Each magazine will try to find overlooked editorial space to occupy, but the reality is that living -- however luxurious or active -- is pretty well-represented already in magazines. The real play here is creating a lush reader experience that can't be matched with newsprint, not to mention media outside print.

The Journal has a chance to take its "Weekend Edition" in a direction it should have pursued when it was introduced in 2005, said Peter Kreisky, the media consultant. "They missed a larger opportunity with the Saturday edition to create a product that doesn't look and feel like the weekday product because it's not reaching people in their offices or commutes; it's reaching people at their homes," Mr. Kreisky said. "One of the fundamental rules of publishing is to envisage where people are when they read your publication, because that really determines what the design and look and feel should be."

That's beginning to look like one of the few fundamentals that hasn't changed with the rise of digital media.

Better greens
For certain marketers, particularly on the high end, quality paper and presentation is everything, so adding glossy magazines makes every bit of sense, said Andrew Swinand, president-chief client officer at Starcom USA. "It's sort of like the salads at McDonald's," he said. "It's removing the veto vote."

"From a distribution standpoint it can't cost much more," Mr. Swinand added. "If you can further monetize your existing base, have at it."

The Times, the other national newspaper, has steadily expanded its portfolio of in-paper magazines, which now include the Sunday magazine plus T: The New York Times Style Magazine, the quarterly sports title Play and the semiannual real-estate magazine Key. It's easy to see why: Revenue at the newspaper slipped 0.7% from 2005 to 2006 but jumped 14.3% at the magazines, according to estimates by TNS Media Intelligence. Last month corporate sibling The Boston Globe started a monthly called Fashion Boston, delivered to the paper's high-income readers, to complement last fall's introduction of the bimonthly Design New England.

Ms. Lavington said she expects many of USA Today's advertisers, the ones that also want glossy venues for some upmarket, creative treatments, to buy space in its still-unnamed magazine -- and many newcomers besides. "For us, it's some of our core advertisers," she said, "but also going beyond that into some new advertisers that typically don't run very often in newspapers but do run in magazines."
Most Popular
In this article: