Recently, I've been griping about my local paper and newspapers in general. The industry is in turmoil and changing rapidly. One big change will be the way the paper will be read in the future. Today's announcement about the Kindle DX will make it easier for people like me to eventually switch to a digital reader. I like this idea and I cannot imagine how newspapers today, in their current form, will survive, except for one... the Wall St. Journal. I have been an avid Journal reader for years. The paper has changed for the better in recent years and is setting the pace for an industry in transition. In fact, of all major newspapers in this country, the Wall St. Journal was the only one to INCREASE paid subscribers in the last month. While an entire industry cuts content, moves online or folds all-together how can it be that the Journal grows? There have been several recent changes that I believe have enhanced the reading experience, broadened appeal and made the paper more useful. That list includes:
Added sports coverage
Adjusted the physical size of the paper
Enhanced the paid online version
Launched an iPhone app
Produce excellent podcasts and vidcasts
Broadened appeal with health, tech and travel
Reformatted the front page for easy scanning
But beyond these enhancements, fundamentally the I enjoy the Journal for three reasons. First, the perspective is conservative yet thoughtful. The OpEd page is engaging and thought provoking. The editorial page in my local paper has become predictable and mundane. Any column worth reading was syndicated from another paper. There are essentially no independent thinkers or interesting writers. While I don't always agree with Peggy Noonan, Kim Strassel or William McGurn, I do respect their perspective.
Secondly, the information I read in the Journal or hear on their podcasts is relevant to me. Walt Mossberg and Katie Boehret are consistently exceptional with product reviews and insights. The company coverage is great and news stories are engaging. From travel to tech and health to book and wine reviews, it fits my lifestyle.
Finally the Journal entertains me in an intelligent way. Each day there is a story on the front page that delves into topics ranging from Bollywood to windmills. I'm a sucker for Pepper and Salt, the funny cartoon (my recent favorite at left). The writing style is accurate when needed and relaxed when appropriate. I also find the podcast with Gordon Deal to be a great compliment to the paper. So as newspaper executives across the country (and here in my hometown) are scratching their heads try to figure out why they are sinking, they should pick up a copy of the Journal. I do... everyday. Tom Cuthbert