Wednesday, January 03, 2007

The Wall Street Journal Reports: Fred Fillmore Wants to Make YOU Rich!

Is it my imagination, or does the new, thinner, Wall Street Journal look less like the Wall Street Journal and more like Parade Magazine?

Sure, there’s some great content in today’s new, thinner paper—first and foremost a behind-the-scenes look at how Abbott jacked up the price of an AIDS drug by 400% for no other reason than to get people infected with AIDS to switch to a new Abbott AIDS drug, and also to hurt Bristol-Myers.

Not for science, not for their customers, not for people’s lives, but because it helped their P&L.

Plus there’s a timeless quote from Henry Kravis about the perils of doing private equity deals simply for the sake of doing private equity deals in an era of almost-endless private equity deal-making:

“Any fool can buy a company,” says Mr. Kravis. “You should be congratulated when you sell.”

But for some reason my eyes have a hard time focusing on the real stuff, like Abbott’s shenanigans and the wisdom of Kravis, because everything is so scrunched together—like Parade Magazine, which people only notice because it comes in the thick stack of color inserts that makes your Sunday newspaper heavier than a car.

Even the legit stories in today's B Section have that cheap, desperate appearance of one of those “Fred Fillmore Made a Fortune in Mortgage Backed Securities…and Now He Wants to Make YOU Rich!” fake testimonials in Parade.

So now I have even less reason to read the physical copy and more reason to do what I’ve been doing for the last year or two. Which is to say, read the online version.

Progress marches on.

Jeff Matthews
I Am Not Making This Up

© 2007 Jeff Matthews

The content contained in this blog represents the opinions of Mr. Matthews. Mr. Matthews also acts as an advisor and clients advised by Mr. Matthews may hold either long or short positions in securities of various companies discussed in the blog based upon Mr. Matthews' recommendations. This commentary in no way constitutes a solicitation of business or investment advice. It is intended solely for the entertainment of the reader, and the author.


dkman said...

As another longtime reader of the WSJ I too was surprised at the magnitude of change in the print edition.

Change like this is very hard to pull off without making quite a bit of your readership angry as it is equally hard for all of us to adjust to the new format.

However, I do think the change was for the best and I applaud their effort to focus more on analysis and perspective rather than reporting news and data. I was also impressed how they had a whole section yesterday explaining the why-what-how of the whole process.

It's almost impossible to have a profitable and successful newspaper business nowadays and I think the WSJ guys are doing a great job not becoming the next Encyclopedia Britannica.

SiamTwin said...

looks more like Investors Business Dialy to me. progress indeed...

Lee_D said...

Honestly, who has time to read a hardcopy newspaper? Aside from the fact that old print media is only accepting the reality of a digital world in a half-assed manner, the time factor alone makes the print option less attractive.

My info matrix is an agglomeration of blogs, news sites, and the dozen or so industry newsletters I get in my email every week. All of these sources get quickly skimmed to find items of greater interest, often while I have three or more other activities rolling on my desktop. The actual act of reading a newspaper or magazine is much more time consuming, and not an option for me most of the time.

So, in summary, they can make it free, but I'm still not going to read it.

gvtucker said...

I hate the new WSJ with a passion. Every single person I've spoken with does not like it at all.

It isn't a coincidence that I spend a good deal more time reading Financial Times this year. I don't know if the content of the WSJ has changed or the format just makes it seem like the content has changed, but the feel is wrong.

hundredyearstorm said...

My first thought was that it's a cross b/w USA Today and you're local community newspaper. It's got the useless pie charts / bar graphs that USA Today has pioneered for people who like to look at their paper, not read it plus the crappy font, thin paper and reduced size of your local community paper. The best (worst) of both worlds.

Brian said...

My gripes about the new format:

1. smaller size of paper looks really funny, compared to other newspapers, eg) Chicago Tribune, that have transitioned to another smaller size. They made the WSJ more narrow from left to right, but kept the same length.

2. the new design sacrifices too much white space, making the layout hard to navigate. The previous design did a far better job physically separating columns on the page.

Old Crow said...

The WSJ print version was convenient when I was commuting on the train - I kept getting it when I began consulting for no good reason other than habit. I won't renew it again though. I'm down to one print version magazine - the Economist is the sole survivor.