For virtually all of its 119-year history, The Wall Street Journal has been located within a few blocks of the street from which the paper took its name. The exception was for a period after 9/11, when the paper, whose World Financial Center offices were directly across the street from the World Trade Center, had to quickly scatter employees throughout other parts of the city and even to New Jersey, where the company has a printing facility.
Even before Rupert Murdoch bought The Journal in December, there was talk of moving the paper into News Corp.'s building on Avenue of the Americas at 48th Street in midtown. It makes sense from a financial and logistical point of view. A story in The New York Times earlier this week indicated many Journal employees would welcome the move, since the midtown location is an easier commute.
Of more significance than the move away from the Wall Street financial district is another move the paper will be making -- an editorial move. Plans are reportedly in the works to expand The Journal's non-business news with more space devoted to politics, entertainment and sports. These subjects already get coverage in the paper's "Weekend Journal" section on Fridays and the new Saturday edition.
These editorial changes are aimed at attracting more readers and -- most importantly -- new advertisers. The Saturday edition has had mixed reviews so far, but it seems to have succeeded in bringing new advertisers in.
Is there need for more coverage of non-business news? Perhaps not, if it's simply straight reporting of news we already get from other dailies, TV and online.
But if The Journal delves into the new areas with strong investigative reporting and deeper analysis and commentary, they just might succeed in their quest for more readers and more ad pages. I just hope they don't skimp on their core business coverage along the way.
Update Feb. 5, 2008: This week's issue of Crain's New York Business covers the topic, in a story they call "Murdoch's gamble." They say The Journal could end up a diluted paper, going into battle head-to-head with The New York Times. Read it here.