I love it when I look through my afternoon feeds and find that one of the giants of “old media” is taking steps to keep relevant in the new and wonderful world of always on digital news streams. Realizing that people are increasingly being informed of events via electronic device, the Wall Street Journal has decided to cut some inches from its daily paper and retool it with that fact in mind. Those inches (which will save the company an estimated 18 million dollars annually) will be cut from breaking and straight news items which will gain new life online.
The new look Journal will hit newsstands on January 2 and it will be temporarily free… a chance to let readers taste the future. Further, in what looks to be a blatant admission that free news can be the foundation of profitability, the WSJ also has plans to give complimentary access to online and paper editions to “young” executives. The access will be delivered through something they’re calling a “mentoring” program.
Although I don’t read the Journal I am intrigued by their approach here. Chopping down the standard broadsheet format is a pretty strong statement on the changing landscape of print… one that other publishers would do well to heed. To simply cling to a form factor for sentimental reasons or misguided purist elitism could soon prove catastrophic.
The only question I have is this: What effect will all this have on the editorial slant of the printed content? With hard news being pushed to the web there is an excellent opportunity for the editors to put more opinion and analysis in the print edition. Perhaps we will start seeing longer, more complex investigative articles… or maybe more human interest, culture, and art. That’s certainly what the medium cries out for… I guess we’ll have to wait and see if the WSJ editors hear that cry.