Wall Street Journal Revamp: More Social, More Open

By September 15, 2008

The Wall Street Journal will launch Tuesday its revamped site, more streamlined than its current iteration, designed six years ago. The overhaul will also see the Journal, which has the tenth-largest audience of an online newspaper in the U.S., incorporate social media elements into its presentation. The WSJ, purchased last year by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, is one of the few online newspapers that still follows the subscription model. While much of its news is available to everyone, most of the Journal’s raison d’être, business news, is available only to its one million paying subscribers. The revamped site will further the incentive to subscribe, as that’s where the social media aspect, the Journal Community, will reside.

Subscribers will be able to create profiles including their job positions, interests and photos.  In addition to article commenting, Community Journal members will be able to participate in discussions and solicit advice from experts and other readers.  As the profiles will be in the subscribers' own names, community participation should remain civil.

The new site will also give non-paying members more news options; separate homepages for subscribers and non-subscribers will make free navigation easier. The Journal will also expand its free content.

The revamp is part of a larger attempt to broaden the Journal’s readership and expand its coverage. Earlier this month, it released the premiere issue of lifestyle magazine, WSJ. (the period's part of the name -- as one commentator noted, it's silent).  It’s not a bad strategy, at once opening up the general readership and increasing incentive to become a premium member.

“We’re growing not only in terms of technology but in terms of different audiences who don’t traditionally come to the journal,” said WSJ President Gordon McLeod. “Three years ago this was a paid site. 800,000 people could see it and that was it.”

Monday’s stock crisis will cause WSJ community chatter to explode, so we should have a good idea of what the Journal’s future social side of the will look like by Tuesday night.

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