Common wisdom says there’s no future in print newspapers and that the rest of the country is fed up with Wall Street. But both propositions fall flat in the case of the Wall Street Journal (NSDQ: NWS) Sunday edition.
Since 1999, a version of the newspaper favored by New York financial titans has become a quiet hit in dozens of smaller papers across the land, including the Jackson Citizen Patriot and the Kalamazoo Gazette. The local papers publish two to four pages every weekend of original customized content from Wall Street Journal writers that cover business and personal finance issues.
WSJ Sunday editor, David Crook, says the content carries the same sophistication as the Journal’s regular fare but targets a different demographic.
“We ask the writers to take out a zero. The readers may not have $50,000 but they do have $5,000.”
The partnership program, which the Journal says reaches more than 7 million readers through 62 newspapers, provides the publishers with easy-to-load content.
Many local papers also partner with the Journal in a program to share money from national advertisers. Crook says revenue from Wall Street Journal Sunday is growing even though circulation has peaked, and that the program is a way to introduce the brand to millions of new readers.
The weekend pairing of Wall Street and Main Street appears to be a perfect marriage save for one hitch — the Journal has cold feet when it comes to digital. For now, the Journal will not provide its partners with digital copy for their websites. “We need to grow our digital base as much as they need it,” explained Crook.
The decision is a disappointment to people like Todd Benoit, Director of News and New Media at the Bangor Daily News. He says that the Journal’s weekend pages offer hard-to-get content at a “very fair price” to the newspaper’s aging readers, but that there is digital demand too.
“Tell them we would love to get the online version,” said Benoit.