Outgoing ‘WSJ’ Publisher Previews Content Changes in Farewell Column

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By: Mark Fitzgerald

In her final annual “Letter from the publisher,” retiring Wall Street Journal Publisher Karen Elliott House told readers Thursday that the blanket-sized business newspaper will shrink to the industry-standard broadsheet next year.

Among other changes House outlined in the nearly full-page letter was the introduction later this year of an “Index to People” listing similar to the present “Index to Business” feature that states the page in which companies are mentioned. House said fewer stories will jump in the year ahead, and the “International” page heading will disappear, “for the simple reason that the business coverage provided by our more than 100 Journal editors and reporters outside the U.S. already is interwoven throughout the paper.”

The “Politics & Policy” page heading will be replaced by “Politics and Economics” page headings, she added.

House was low-key about her retirement, and did not mention this week’s naming of COO and Executive Vice President Richard F. Zannino to replace her husband, Peter R. Kann, as CEO of Dow Jones & Co., effective Feb. 1. Kann will remain as chairman through the company’s annual meeting in 2007. House had been a potential candidate for the CEO position.

In her only reference to the executive shakeup, she wrote: “This will be my final publisher’s letter as I am retiring after 32 years at the Journal. It has been a great pleasure to serve readers as a reporter, an editor and an executive and to work at a company where integrity is the core of all that we do.”

House said the Journal will be narrowing its broadsheet “in full confidence that the smaller page size, coupled with new navigation improvements and closer online integration, will make the Journal an even more convenient source of news for you.”

Last fall, Dow Jones relaunched its Asian and European editions as tabloids, or “compacts.” The new formats have had “overwhelmingly positive reader reaction,” she wrote.

Similarly, she said the Journal’s decision to resume Saturday publication after decades as a Monday through Friday daily “has been met by widespread approval in repeated readership surveys.”

House said these surveys show 90% of Journal subscribers read the Weekend Edition, most by noon on Saturday. Readers are spending 51 minutes with the edition, which she said was comparable to the average for the weekday Journal.

Near the end of the letter, House put in a plug for continuing the Iraq war. The Journal’s editorial page viewpoint in favor of “free people, free markets,” she writes, “also lead us to believe that the cause of freedom must be a universal one and that it is worth sacrificing for in Iraq — just as has been the case in other places, in other times.”

The “Letter From the Publisher” has been an annual feature of the editorial page section for the past 29 years.

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