Advertising Age checks in with Gordon Crovitz, three months into his role as publisher of a unified online & print editions of Dow Jones’ Wall Street Journal franchise and describes Gordon’s thinking around how the paper edition will evolve.Given the digital era’s barrage of news from all sides and sources, the paper probably will devote more space to “what it means” articles and less to simple “what happened” pieces.
As an earlier adopter of online news (and a previous employee of Dow Jones where I had open access to Dow Jones’ newswire content), I’ve always turned to the newspaper version of the Wall Street Jounal as a supplement to the what I read online rather than my primary view into what’s going on.
Breaking news is clearly better suited to delivery via the internet where the story can be updated as the story develops and for years we’ve seen papers drop scheduling, listings, and stock quote tables from their expensive newsprint inventory.
Due out early next year, the new version of the paper which is known internally as “3.0” will feature a smaller format and is clearly being positioned as an adjunct to wsj.com, something that helps, as Mr. Crovitz says, “help us overcome information overload by helping us, once a day, put the content in context.” I’ve always viewed the paper more akin to a daily business magazine and read it for its excellent feature articles which typically spill over 2,000 words, not something you would care to read on a computer screen.
My father, a longtime New York Times subscriber who, reading from Japan, has been forced into pushing the envelope on new delivery mechanisms for the paper. He used to live in a self-imposed time warp where his world view consistently 6 weeks behind which is how long it took for a slow boat to Asia to delivery the city editions to his door in Yokohama. He described reading the paper at nytimes.com as if he were reading a ticker tape, “scrolling up the side of building,” hardly the best way to scan the news of the day.
Lately, he has been delighted with a company called NewspaperDirect which sends a pdf file of the paper to Tower Records in Shibuya who prints out a high resolution copy of the paper sheets of B4 paper to fill his standing order.
The trend with many industries that touch the internet is to explode the centralization of capital and infrastructure to the edges. In order to optimize the value of the distribution capabilities of the internet, newspapers must transform what leaves their offices from a physical artifact to an electronic representation. At the other end, the point of purchase, this electronic copy can then be consumed online via a web browser or transformed into a high-quality printed facsimile such as that used by my father in Tokyo.
A third format is also possible. Companies such as eInk in Boston are experimenting with technology that combines the best of paper and electronic delivery. Imagine a thin piece of flexible “paper” that can be refreshed with the latest information. WSJ 3.0 is ahead of the curve because it conditions subscribers to begin to think of the print and online versions as two important pieces that work together instead of a dual format world. The wsj brand follows the reader as from the online world into the print world and back again, weaving an experience that crosses between the two mediums. This preps readers for a world where the two formats eventually meld together combining an editorial and personalized view of the world just as it does with a hybrid piece of self-updating “electronic paper” that combines the best of newsprint and electronic display.