- The Washington Times - Friday, December 7, 2001

The Wall Street Journal will begin publishing its front page in color next spring, the first major change to the venerable newspaper's design since World War II.

Adding to the new look, the Journal will sport a "cleaner and clearer design" with fewer typefaces, its publisher said yesterday. It will also introduce "Personal Journal," a new section that focuses on personal investing, travel, health and family matters.

"Now the Journal will offer … more content focused not only on business, but the business of life," said Peter R. Kann, chairman and chief executive of Dow Jones & Co. Inc., which publishes the Journal.

The changes, which will debut April 9, come during one of the biggest advertising slumps in years.

The Journal's advertising linage will be down about 40 percent this year, industry trade publication Advertising Age reported yesterday.

Dow Jones, which also publishes Barron's magazine and several community newspapers, generated $1.8 billion in advertising revenue last year, according to Advertising Age.

Founded in 1889, the Journal is known for its gray, multicolumned front page design. Instead of photographs, the newspaper runs illustrations on page one, which has given it a staid, stuffy reputation.

The Journal's circulation is 1.8 million. It is the nation's second-largest newspaper, behind USA Today.

Mr. Kann announced the changes at an investors' conference in New York. He would not specify how color would be used or if the redesign will include front page photos.

The Journal's embrace of color is an attempt to attract more advertisers, analysts said.

Color helps distinguish advertisements in newspapers, said Joe Mandese, editor of Media Buyer's Daily, an advertising industry newsletter. "If you have a bubblejet printer or a high-definition television you're trying to sell, you want your ad to be in color," Mr. Mandese said.

Readers, though, may not be as enthused.

The Journal gives most business junkies their daily fix of financial news. Its loyal following includes stock brokers, bankers, analysts and executives around the world.

"I wouldn't want to see a radical redesign. You know where certain stories are going to appear, and I wouldn't want to lose that. It's the bible. You can't do a day of business without it," said John Corcoran, an Internet analyst for CIBC World Markets in Boston.

The changes were envisioned with readers like Mr. Corcoran in mind, Dow Jones spokesman Steven Goldstein said.

"We simply want to make our paper more readable and easier to navigate. If the byproduct of that is more people give the paper a look, then that's all the better," Mr. Goldstein said.

The Journal includes color graphics and some color pictures on its inside pages. It has spent about $225 million in the past four years to increase its ability to offer more color, Mr. Goldstein said.

Beginning Jan. 2, the newspaper's page capacity will increase from 80 daily to 96. Of those pages, 24 will be able to be printed in color, up from eight pages now, Mr. Goldstein said.

The Journal's Web site will also reveal a new design Jan. 28, Mr. Goldstein said. The site has 610,000 subscribers, making it one of the few successful subscriber-only Internet news sites.

USA Today helped popularize color in newspapers when it debuted in 1982. The Journal resisted the move toward color, even after the rival New York Times known as the "gray lady" for years added color in 1997.

Some critics suggested the Times would become less serious with color photography. But the paper has thrived since then, said John Morton, president of Morton Research Inc., a newspaper consulting group.

"I can't think of anybody who pays attention to that criticism anymore," Mr. Morton said.

Still, "no newspaper should use color for the sake of using color. It shouldn't be used as a decoration," said Roy Peter Clark, senior scholar at the Poynter Institute journalism school in St. Petersburg, Fla.

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