- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 9, 2002

Pastels, little boxes and the personal touch: The Wall Street Journal gets fancy today in the name of progress.
There will be some new typefaces, larger headlines and other visual trappings meant to appease a fickle, finicky readership the first design changes since 1942. It's inspired gleeful press coverage that paints the paper as a dowager trading sturdy shirtwaist for a little cleavage.
"Will everybody be happy today? No. Everyone will not be happy today," said Journal spokesman Steve Goldstein. "The most important thing is that the content has not changed. The new appearance is meant to help readers, to be beneficial to them."
"For some readers, it will be like painting grandmother up like a tart," said Phil Nesbitt of the American Press Institute. "Pastels may alienate the loyal ones. Though the world is full of color, the Journal built its reputation in black and white."
If anything, the Journal hopes to shake the impression that it is an intimidating, dry bundle of words meant for aging sourpusses in the New York financial district. Indeed, the paper is out to woo women, not to mention the young, monied and restless.
Today readers will be treated to a new "Personal Journal," an ongoing compendium of savvy consumer reporting, plus a new emphasis on breaking news sending such front-page staples as "Washington Wire" and "Work Week" inside. The traditional six front-page columns of densely packed news and observations are history.
"Anytime an icon changes, it attracts attention," noted Mr. Goldstein. "These are well-studied changes, though. We have spent a lot of time, effort and money here. And we're excited about it."
The Journal has not rid itself of some elements dear to the heart of its current 1.8 million readers. The traditional line-art portraits tucked into the type will stay, and designers have resurrected triangular "pointers" from the paper's past.
The newspaper is going high profile and au courant, however, in its promotions.
The new slogan "Business. And the business of life" is the centerpiece of a $21 million advertising campaign. There has been little hubbub over the rude and clinical concept of newspaper as "brand," and more emphasis on clever humor instead.
Part of the campaign, in fact, offers visions of mock design rejects, including a woman's magazine version with such shrill headlines as "We rank the 100 cutest brokers on Wall Street" and "Our staff astrologer picks the hottest stocks."
Meanwhile, Peter Kann, chief executive of the Journal's parent company, Dow Jones, will ring the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange this morning. Copies of the reinvented paper will be handed out for free in Manhattan and also placed among the svelte mannequins of Saks Fifth Avenue.
But is the Journal suffering?
Advertising revenue fell from just over $1 billion in 2000 to $706 million last year. And while circulation has risen in recent years, revenue from those sales has actually dropped 12 percent since 1998. But things have been tough all over: Ad revenue has also dropped at the New York Times and Money magazine.
The current thinking is that both color and colorful coverage of life's softer side will remedy the Journal's financial gaps.
And while the spokesman, Mr. Goldstein, insists that hard news will simply be enhanced by the new design, the American Press Institute's Mr. Nesbitt remains skeptical.
"These changes are not going to have much of an impact on a specialty, niche publication like the Wall Street Journal," he said. "I don't see this swaying current readers or luring in new ones."

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