Posted by: Jon Fine on September 3, 2008
Executives from the News Corp.’s Wall Street Journal held a breakfast today at Manhattan’s Morgan Library to introduce WSJ., a luxury supplement to the paper. (And, no, that’s not a typo—the magazine has a period finickily appended to its title.)
While somewhat reworking previous plans for a magazine that will accompany the Journal’s Saturday editions, News Corp. is still making a play for the high-end of its high-end demographic. That sub-segment of the the magazine industry has held up better than others even as the business continues to go through protracted tough times. But, as executives at the event conceded, it’s a crowded niche; newcomer chains like Modern Luxury and lots of local efforts have glommed onto the free-glossy-for-the-very-wealthy category. (With luck, that category will hold up better than the teen category, which went through a boomlet of new entrants last decade but has since seen several titles cease publication.)
WSJ., a quarterly in ’08 that will become a monthly next year, will go to 800,000 WSJ subscribers in the US and 160,000 abroad. Dow Jones Chief Revenue Officer Michael Rooney said the supplement's readership would have an average household income of $265,000 and $2.9 million in household assets—the demographic stratosphere, in sum.
In his introductory remarks, Journal Managing Editor Robert Thomson evidenced both his weakness for alliteration and New York Times bashing. He said his paper’s new magazine would be “as erudite as it is elegant,” and touted its “presence and prescience.” Dow Jones, he said, is free of the “fetid air of failure” that afflicts so many newspaper companies these days.
As for the Times, he drew a stark contrast between the Journal’s new magazine and one published by another unnamed major New York newspaper, the executives of which “hold their nose and take advertisers' money.” (Thomson also appeared to briefly speak Chinese in response to a question posed by a reporter from a Chinese newspaper.)
WSJ. has already won notice for one article in its first issue, which will appear in the US this Saturday—a piece that details the running regimen of the formerly-obscure Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. Thomson: “You might call it serendipidity. We call it scheduling.”
The magazine itself, at first glance, looks something like a larger, more wordy and newspaper-y version of luxury title The Robb Report. Journal executives are counting on attracting more women to the magazine—aiming for an audience split 60-40 between male and female, as opposed to the more male-skewing newspaper—but is taking pains to write for both sexes. All fashion spreads will have clothing options for men and women, said WSJ. editor Tina Gaudoin. (I may have more to say about the magazine once I have the chance to read all of it.)
Rooney said 51 advertisers appear in the debut issue of WSJ., 19 of which are new to Dow Jones.
The last major attempt at launching a newspaper magazine supplement with a national reach was Time Inc.’s ill-fated third iteration of Life, which launched in late 2004 and folded in April 2007.
(*We heartily endorse the suggestion put forth by Portfolio’s Jeff Bercovici and hereafter on this blog will drop the period from WSJ. This also gets around the annoyance of having this version of Microsoft Word automatically capitalize the word following WSJ-if-you-add-the-period. Good thinking, Jeff.)