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By: Lucia Moses

Financial Paper Plans To Wash A Bit Of Gray Away

Look for more color to start creeping into the pages of the famously gray Wall Street Journal in the not-so-distant future.

In the coming months, parent Dow Jones & Co. Inc. will start looking at how to incorporate additional color in the financial sheet when it completes a three-year, $232-million printing plant upgrade in January 2002. The expansion will enable production of 96 pages each day, tripling its color capacity to 24 pages from eight.

“As we get closer, we’ll obviously have to start talking about how extensively we’re going to deploy new parts of that,” corporate spokesman Richard Tofel said. “The real question is, ‘How do you use the space?'”

Color has contributed to the paper’s growth spurt, which continued through the first half of this year, when ad volume at the Journal grew 35.6%, led by a 43.4% increase in general advertising. Color in the Journal appeared first not in editorial columns but in advertisements, with spot color introduced in 1991, followed by full color in 1995. Advertiser response has been strong. The Journal often sells out its color ads, which are limited to eight full pages and cost advertisers a 25% premium.

While the front page of the 111-year-old U.S. edition looks much the way it did half a century ago, the rest of the paper also has become more graphic-oriented. By 1997, color was appearing regularly in special news sections, and the following year, the “Weekend Journal” section was launched, with liberal use of color and photos.

Most recently, the “Marketplace” and “Money & Investing” fronts have displayed dashes of color, and it’s likely that they’ll use more in the future.

As it studies how to use its increased color capacity, Dow Jones is expected to consult famed designer Mario Garcia, whom it hired last year to redesign the Journal’s Asian and European editions for their relaunches earlier this year. Garcia, who is part of a traditionalism trend in newspaper design, has worked in more than 35 countries on more than 450 newspapers, including The Philadelphia Inquirer, Handelsblatt in Dsseldorf, Germany, and O Estado de Sao Paulo in Brazil.

In addition to the Journal, Garcia’s worked on Dow Jones’ Far Eastern Economic Review magazine as well as its WSJ.com and OpinionJournal Web sites. “He’s got a very good feel for who we are and who our readers are and what they want out of the Journal,” Tofel said. “To us, a design is very much a means, not an end.”

Garcia added color, photos, and new column sizes to the Journal’s Asian and European editions.

It’s too early to say how extensively the mother ship’s appearance will change. But it’s safe to say Dow Jones won’t go as far as it did with the international editions, whose more limited history and circulation made them easier to change. Both are less than 25 years old.

“One of the things you can count on is, we believe strongly one of the Journal’s key strengths lies in its distinctiveness – and I think you can count on the Journal remaining distinct,” Tofel said.

Lucia Moses (lmoses@editorandpublisher.com) is an associate editor covering business for E&P.

Copyright 2000, Editor & Publisher.

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