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Jewish World Review
Feb. 23, 2007
/ 5 Adar 5767
The Wall Street Ladies Home Journal
The Wall Street Journal is turning into a sissy newspaper. What was once the leading daily journal reporting on the traditionally male dominated world of nuts and bolts business and raw power has gone soft. In as much as any newspaper could be described in gender specific terms, the WSJ was most definitely all man. Then it went asexual, and then metrosexual, and now it is morphing into what Governor Schwarzenegger might categorize as "girly." Yes, The Wall Street Journal is going through a journalistic sex change.
The paper that devoted itself for decades to the most masculine of all masculine endeavors (short of war) - i.e.: finance, politics, and business - now reports on the latest European fashion trends and which web site offers the best deal on makeup. The tough dollars and cents reporting and business as usual articles have become almost secondary to the really important stuff in today's world, like where to go on romantic week-end getaways and the latest skinny on dieting and exercise.
Like Lon Chaney Jr. turning into the Wolfman or Dr. Jekyll becoming Hyde, the metamorphosis was slow but sure and just as frightening to watch. It started several years ago with the introduction of photos - previously the paper had used only line drawings for illustration. The line art was a long standing tradition that the Journal hung onto for well over a hundred years. Once that tradition had been broken, the flood gates of change were wide open. Photos took over.
Soon after the photos, the Journal introduced colors for the first time, and not just in photographs, color tinted pages were designed. Columns of hard news and charts and graphs are now shaded in pastel colors - in much the same way that new ten and twenty dollar bills are now printed in hues of peach, soft yellow and sea foam greens. Just as "decorator-color currency" became all the rage at the Treasury Department, so has "decorator-color columns" caught on big with Journal editors.
But the new color scheme was only the beginning of a total make-over. Next, The Journal went on a diet, narrowing its pages by 20%. Trimming its width to a more accommodating size for a woman's hands, I suspect. The Journal has also increased its daily publication from 5 days a week (Monday through Friday) to 6 days (adding Saturday).
And the editorial changes have been even more extreme than the graphics. New "life style" and "Leisure & Arts" and "Fashions" and "Travel" and "Food" and "Restaurant" and "Home &Family" sections have been added. There are recipes, fashion, television guides, fashion, celebrity news, fashion, and fashion, and fashion. Check out these actual headlines from recent issues:
"Raising Women to Be Leaders"
"Hormone Therapy May Benefit Younger Women"
(Front page Marketplace section)
"Avoiding a 'Gown Wreck'"
(Front page Weekend Journal section)
"How Match.com Found Love Among Boomers"
(Front page Main section lead story)
"Playing Fashion's New Angles"
(Front page Pursuits section lead story)
"Strike a Pose, Count Your Blessings" (the problems of being a fashion model)
(Front page, Main section lead story)
"How to Prevent Airline Miles From Vanishing"
(Front page, Money & Investing section, column feature)
"Mood Lighting on Four Wheels" (interior ambience lighting in cars)
(Front page, Personal Journal section)
"Better to Reunite Than to Fade Away" (baby boomer rock bands re-forming)
(Front page, lead story, Marketplace section)
"Moves to Vaccinate Girls For Cervical Cancer Draw Fire"
(Front page, Personal Journal, lead story)
"High-End Skin Care Comes to Walgreens"
(Page 2, Media &Marketing section)
And the following stories were featured all on the same day on the front page of the Personal Journal section:
"How Fashion Makes its Way From the Runway to the Rack"
"Finally, Cellphone Photos Worth Sharing"
"Sick Days: When to Keep Your Kid Home From Day Care"
Not to mention articles inside on such things as: what to wear under a polo shirt; makeup artist tricks of the trade; the Westminster Dog Show; inexpensive romantic restaurants; the first weight-loss drug to be available without a prescription; and a profile on a noted woman philanthropist.
So what is the point? Are all these articles bad? No. Are some of them about things that even I might be interested in reading about? Maybe. Are they articles that Henry Ford, J.P. Morgan, or John D. Rockefeller would have cared about? Don't think so, unless they'd have a burning desire to know what the new recipes for Girl Scout cookies are, or how the new Mrs. Tom Cruise was going to restart her career.
The point is, the Wall Street Journal has now become Woman's Day Magazine. The editorial is skewed for women, albeit women with a bit of intelligence - not the young air-headed bimbos who get their opinions on world events from their favorite celebrity and consider People Magazine deep reading - but what might be called Upwardly Mobile Working Women (UPMOWOWO). Biz Chix. The new "B" girls - the Business Broads of the Boardrooms.
I realize that the Journal's hormonal changes are inevitable. And I know, in all fairness, the Wall Street Journal is really only reflecting our modern societal shifts. As the entire American culture leans further toward a more feminized society, so does the Journal. As more and more women enter business in supervisory and managerial positions, as the boardrooms of America go more and more female, as society in general becomes less a "man's world" and more a "woman's world," its financial newspaper of record will simply follow suit.
Only now the suit it will follow will be worn with Jimmy Choo sling backs and matching clutch.
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JWR contributor Greg Crosby, former creative head for Walt Disney publications, has written thousands of comics, hundreds of children's books, dozens of essays, and a letter to his congressman. A freelance writer in Southern California, you may contact him by clicking here.
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© 2006, Greg Crosby