Sneak peek at the new look for the Wall Street Journal
March 25, 2002 1:50 PM   Subscribe

Sneak peek at the new look for the Wall Street Journal "Print buyers were presented with non-disclosure agreements when shown the pages...No media buyer was shown the front page, redesigned for the first time since the 1944." Pretty esoteric subject, but still remarkable how much influence the "look and feel " of a newspaper can have on its reader. Hard to imagine the WSJ looking different. It must be a very tough endeavor to get right. (IMHO the recently revamped Int Herald Tribune looks way messier and more confusing than before.)
posted by Voyageman (17 comments total)
I'm very disappointed in the re-design of their web-based (subscription-only) version, and find myself consulting it less and less often. It seems to lack the gravitas and historic energy of their old design. And those baby blue headlinese! It has no urgency, no sense that you're entering a serious news source. I can only imagine what they're going to do to the newspaper.
posted by Faze at 2:16 PM on March 25, 2002

Science News recently got a facelift as well, its first in 80 years. They did a pretty good job with it. They made it more modern looking without succumbing to the temptation to make it look like something off of a snowboard or the USA Today.
posted by jkottke at 2:19 PM on March 25, 2002

That "In Today's Paper" can they justify wasting so much precious above-the-fold space?
posted by lbergstr at 2:56 PM on March 25, 2002

BTW "The redesign comes at the close of a four-year, $232 million project to beef up color and page capacity, said Journal Vice President and General Manager Dan Austin at a January presentation to analysts and investors." Enough said.
posted by Voyageman at 2:59 PM on March 25, 2002

Agh, color on the front page. Nooooo!
posted by mrbula at 3:02 PM on March 25, 2002

That "In Today's Paper" can they justify wasting so much precious above-the-fold space?

Simple. If you're The Wall Street Journal, you already know your readers will read everything on the front page, and probably most of what's inside, regardless of how it's laid out. So you lay it out to serve their needs, rather than to sell papers.
posted by kindall at 3:10 PM on March 25, 2002

This is what happens when you ignore Poynter.
posted by luriete at 3:25 PM on March 25, 2002

Everytime any newspaper or magazine (or website I guess for that matter) redesigns in a major way, there are ppl that come and praise the new look and cannot believe how they put up with the old and then there're ppl that praise the old look and rubbish the new.

In the end, it doesn't really matter as they dont care what you think, and regardless, after a few days, all the people will forget what the old version looked like, and everybody starts getting attached to the new.
posted by ajbattrick at 3:36 PM on March 25, 2002

Unveling a new design for a newspaper that has looked the same since 1944 is just, so... wrong. The smart approach would have been to phase in small changes over a period of a year or more. Let people get used to small changes, instead of thrusting everything upon them all at once, thus forcing a "which-do-I-like-better?" reaction.
posted by fleener at 4:52 PM on March 25, 2002

Let people get used to small changes, instead of thrusting everything upon them all at once, thus forcing a "which-do-I-like-better?" reaction.
Oh come on, there's publicity to be had.
posted by holloway at 5:09 PM on March 25, 2002

fleener: Oh, as if they haven't introduced changes in other sections over the years. Not like it comes out of the blue.
posted by raysmj at 5:32 PM on March 25, 2002

Similar worries abounded before the NYT's recent redesign, and I think almost everyone agrees that one was for the better. Not to mention that, ghastly as it may be, USAToday outsells both the WSJ and the NYT.
posted by gsteff at 5:46 PM on March 25, 2002

What amazes me the most is that the WSJ has gone nearly 60 years without redesigning its front page. Most papers redesign at least twice a decade, and from my experience*, a lot of effort goes into redesigning the front page.

The front page of the WSJ has always amazed me. It looks incredibly labor-intensive -- all those little briefs and refers to stories inside the paper take a lot more work than just slapping four or five stories and three or four promos onto the page. But it's so formatted that whoever designs it probably has it down to a science. For all its unorthodoxy and lack of art, it's a consistently beautiful page.

It'll be interesting to see what they do with the redesign. Judging from the European edition shown in the link, it'll still look like the Wall Street Journal, and I'm betting they've done a nice job with the redesign. Some readers will scream bloody murder, but the storm will probably blow over within a couple of weeks.

As for using space above the fold for promos, there's only one reason a newspaper ever does that -- to increase sales out of newspaper racks on the street or wherever. The WSJ has been bleeding red ink, so maybe they think this will help. I'm not so sure. Research has shown that when people walk up to a newspaper box, they're gonna buy a paper, and the promos don't sway them one way or another.

Promos aren't wasted space, though -- our consistent readers, to my shock, told us that they use them as a guide to what's inside the paper. So they serve an important purpose.

* I'm a newspaper page designer who has been involved in three redesigns. I was in charge of last year's redesign of the Mail Tribune of Medford, Ore.
posted by diddlegnome at 6:10 PM on March 25, 2002

I guess I'm too young and/or haven't been paying attention, but the last redesign that prompted such a huge response that it had to be scaled back was - are there any other times that something like that has happened?
posted by panopticon at 7:27 PM on March 25, 2002

kindall and diddlegnome, I can see the value in promos, but I feel the WSJ Europe could have included more promo information in less space. Please - only five highlighted articles for all that real estate? And so much whitespace...maybe the WSJ decided to go for a lower information to page space ratio. Sad.
posted by lbergstr at 9:20 PM on March 25, 2002

The new look I would like to see has less to do with design and more to do with content. I'm so tired of the sycophantic slobberings for multinationals and right wing politics in the opinions portions that I seldom even read the paper any more.
posted by nofundy at 10:12 AM on March 26, 2002

The WSJ was always considered the iron sentinel in newspaper design. No one could ever dare tamper with the layout of the front page, because the paper has remained traditional and effective for over 60 years. Color and large type and blazing headlines had meant little in the face of WSJ's brand of direct, straight-forward journalism; having a traditional, conservative look was the cornerstone of WSJ's approach.

This is a historical move for the newspaper, though I'm not certain if it's the smartest move. Time will tell (and don't mean that time).
posted by Down10 at 11:58 PM on March 27, 2002

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