Design: Jon Housman on the new compact WSJ Europe
newspaper techniques: What has the reaction been like to the new format so far from readers and advertisers?
Jon Housman: I can give you both sides, and actually, I think they’re related. They’re both very positive to give you the short answer. We know this from various channels.
One is that we track all the letters and other comments that come in from readers.
Two, is that we’ve actually done a few follow-
In general, readers find the new format more modern, a little bit easier to read and navigate, they’re spending a little more time on it, and just finding the paper in general more appealing. So, it’s very gratifiying. Even on the area of letters and e-
We’ve been getting them from all the countries that we distribute in, a lot of letters from Germany, France, Switzerland, Belgium, U.K., etc., etc. and we’re very gratified by it.
newspaper techniques: How were both groups, readers and advertisers, prepared for the new format?
Jon Housman: On the advertiser side, I’ll tell you that first. Here again from various channels, we’ve been hearing very positive things. And here I would say it’s both partly anticdotal, which is we get various feedback from advertisers, clients, agency people, in some cases we ask them what they think and they tell us and in some cases they just e-
Also, as we look at advertiser performance, it’s been extremely positive. I believe we are actually the only compact launch to go up in advertising rather than down. It’s public, so I can tell you, we released our November linage, which in Europe was up over 40 percent, which is massive in the newspaper world. So, we’re seeing very positive responses across the board.
newspaper techniques: What did you do to prepare advertisers and readers for the changes you were making?
Jon Housman: On the advertiser front, one thing which I think is important, is we worked very closely with Mario Garcia, who was the lead consultant in the redesign, and he says this himself, he’s worked on a couple hundred of these kinds of things and he said this is the only one he worked on in which the advertising was actually part of the redesign process and not some leaf overlay at the end of the process or some kind of add-
And we solicitated feedback from advertisers on the kinds of things they value. We showed them interium versions as we modified the format, we let them know about it and showed them different versions and really worked with them I think to make this the best launch that we could do.
On the reader side, this was announced back in May and what we did was we put in a how-
newspaper techniques: How was the staff prepared for the change? What was their reaction?
Jon Housman: From my point of view, very positive. It’s probably no secret that a lot of newspapers could take years in many cases to do something like this. Without a very positive reaction from the staff I don’t think this could have been executed in such a short period of time.
I think the change made sense. Again, it’s not just a one-
Interview conducted by Brian Veseling, senior editor for newspaper techniques.
Page first published: 13.02.2006