State of Denial at WSJ & USA Today?

    June 27, 2007

Perhaps the joke “What’s black and white and read all over?” should be updated to “What’s black and white and in the red all over?

My defense and love of print media is well-documented. But the following scenario seems the exact opposite of smart.

As media online and off create green properties, print media continues to fall on hard times. This has forced more than one newspaper to raise prices. What’s one way USA Today and WSJ hope to differentiate themselves?

Glossy paper.

…glossy magazine pages may indeed be more attractive to consumer-focused ad buyers. The Wall Street Journal and USA Today are now developing glossy magazines for distribution within their traditional newsprint flagships, according to company executives and media buyers familiar with the work, Advertising Age reports. …beauty, fashion and other lifestyle advertisers are happier to spend money if their ads appear on thick, glossy pages.

Each magazine will try to find overlooked editorial space to occupy, but the reality is that living — however luxurious or active — is pretty well-represented already in magazines. The real play here is creating a lush reader experience that can’t be matched with newsprint, not to mention media outside print.

More paper? Glossy paper stock may make advertisers happy — initially. But will it reverse the hemorrhage of readers moving to an online only news diet? That better be some pretty amazing paper.

You will not win applying old rules to a new game.