Details Finally Emerge on Journal’s ‘WSJ’ Lifestyle Mag

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The Wall Street Journal plans to publish a new “lifestyle” magazine called WSJ starting in September, the publisher said Wednesday, betting that the market for luxury advertisements will remain robust even as the economy falters.

WSJ will be the first new publication from The Wall Street Journal since Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. acquired Dow Jones & Co., the paper’s owner. The magazine comes as print ad revenue for newspaper and magazine publishers is withering and shifting online.

Typically, buyers of luxury goods are less affected by economic downturns, but some recent ventures into that crowded market have gone wanting.

BusinessWeek, owned by McGraw-Hill Cos., announced last summer it would start local editions in major cities to tap into more targeted ad markets but scrapped those plans as the economy turned sour.

Conde Nast Publications, a unit of Advance Publications Inc., introduced glossy business magazine Portfolio last year to less than rave reviews. The company traffics in high-end magazines like Vogue, The New Yorker and GQ.

“Going after affluent readers and trying to attract luxury advertisers isn’t exactly a unique strategy,” said Mike Simonton, a media analyst at Fitch Ratings, a credit analysis agency.

But he questions whether that market will hold.

“While more resilient than the middle-class and mass-market merchandisers, we think this target will still be negatively impacted by a downturn; making it an interesting time to introduce this product,” he said.

WSJ will debut on Sept. 3 as a quarterly publication before going monthly in 2009. It will be distributed with the Journal’s Saturday edition and won’t be sold separately.

The company said the magazine will cover “modern wealth,” with topics that include cars, fashion, philanthropy and travel.

The Journal would not disclose any revenue targets or how long it expects before the magazine operates profitably. But given News Corp.’s deep pockets, WSJ may get a longer shot than other recent magazine ventures.

“As a much larger and more diverse entity, News Corp. has much more flexibility to take targeted, measured risks than the prior Dow Jones would have had,” Simonton said.

Tribune Co. recently announced that its Los Angeles Times newspaper would publish a new weekly Sunday magazine called LA. Its first issue will be published Sept. 7 and focus on fall fashion.

Last month, Janice Ellis, a former mayoral candidate in Kansas City, launched a national magazine to be inserted in weekend newspapers called RiseUp to cover race and ethnicity.

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