'WSJ' allots more space for soft news

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The Wall Street Journal, long the place to go for news to use in your office life, now wants to grab a bigger share of lifestyle marketers' budgets, and will broaden its editorial space to give more coverage to family life.

The move also comes amid growing internal expectations that the paper's long-discussed Saturday edition will launch sometime next year. Insiders expect a definitive yes or no on the project imminently. A spokesman would only say a Saturday edition remains under consideration and "no decisions have been made."

The business daily will introduce new pages in its "Personal Journal" and "Weekend Journal" lifestyle sections after Labor Day.

The Tuesday-through-Thursday "Personal Journal" will expand its daily offerings by around a page, said Ed Felsenthal, section editor. On Wednesdays the extra space will cover personal and family finance; on Thursdays, the extra space will sport a "home-and-family" focus. While Tuesday's offerings are yet to be fully finalized, Mr. Felsenthal said, it's a good bet they'll cover health and travel.

The "Weekend Journal" will roll out Sept. 10 an additional quarterly "Part 2" section, to focus on previewing seasonal offerings from the worlds of movies, theater, books and fashion, said Eileen Daspin, a "Weekend Journal" news editor who will oversee the new section.

soft touch

The shift marks a further softening of the Journal's approach to daily news. Unlike its competition at the top of the newspaper food chain, the Journal was a late convert to service-oriented sections-call it the newsweekly-ization of the daily paper. "Weekend Journal" launched in 1998 and "Personal Journal" launched in 2002. The Washington Post's "Style" section, considered to be the granddaddy of the big dailies' attempts to move into lifestyle coverage, rolled out in 1969, and was remade to more closely resemble its current format in the '70s.

Given the recent terrain of the Journal's endemic categories-tech and financial-it's understandable it seeks to wring more ad upside out of its well-heeled readership. The Journal consistently touts its "Weekend" and "Personal Journal" sections as smash successes, but Christa Sober, an analyst who tracks Dow Jones & Co. for Thomas Weisel Partners, New York, said the daily's ad results this year remain "volatile" across all categories, even as ad results have largely met analyst expectations. Ed Atorino, who covers the company for Fulcrum Global Partners, New York, cautioned that thus far June results were "a little slow," after strong performances in April and, to a lesser degree, May.

The Journal is hardly alone in continuing to broaden its lifestyle coverage. Time Inc. announced long-expected plans to relaunch Life as a Friday newspaper supplement earlier this month, with its own pronounced focus on home and family activities. But Mr. Felsenthal dismissed any linkage between Life and the Journal's news, pointing out that the plans to expand "Personal Journal" had been in the works for months.

at your service

The New York Times, which, like the Journal, targets an audience of national elites from its New York home base, has steadily bulked up its late-week editions with add-on service sections such as the tech-heavy "Circuits." It tacked on an "Escapes" section, which runs on Friday, just as the Journal launched "Personal Journal."

In addition to the extended lifestyle coverage, the Journal will extend its daily current Thursday ad approach on pages A2 and A3 to every other day of the week. The daily's been touting a "luxury" destination for advertisers on Thursdays on those pages, by banning smaller fractional ads in order to give upscale advertisers a less-cluttered environment.

The Journal's news comes at a complex time for the paper. Labor relations remain a sore spot. Last week, Journal staffers pulled their bylines from Wednesday and Thursday papers, in the run-up to a meeting between the unions, management and a court-appointed mediator June 18.

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