The shockingly smaller version of the Wall Street Journal that debutted Jan. 2 is perhaps the most poignant reminder that newspapers are in serious decline. The influential Columbia Journalism Review called it "shrinky dink." Bloggers had a field day. How does this fit my "If it ain't broke…" blog? Well, the WSJ feels more broke than it was. The words "tiny" and "miniature" come to mind and no matter how much the publishers tell you the slimmed down newspaper is good for you, the move is to reduce costs. I've been through a half dozen cuts in "trim size" as we say in the biz, and no matter how much BS we threw at the marketplace, smaller trim size was ALWAYS to save money. The WSJ is no different. The WSJ's publishers spun it this way: "Improved Navigational Aids; Better Online and Print Alignment; and New Content Features." It's fancy language with grains of truth at best. The Jan. 2 press release mentions nothing about the estimated $18 million a year the WSJ would save.
I asked a WSJ reporter friend how he liked the new format and, of course, he didn't. The WSJ is an institution (even if its editorial page frequently goes off the deep end) and the journalism is first rate. It's distinctive large broad sheet was it trademark and now that's gone. Many other newspapers are doing the same thing as revenues dry up and greedy investors clamor for the high profit margins of yore. Clearly, Dow Jones with publishes the WSJ wanted to make subscribers think to a bad thing is really good. All I can say is that I'm glad the same marketers don't fill the pages of this venerable but not diminshed newspaper (for whose online version I used to be columnist).
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