Magazine article Information Today

The Wall Street Journal Meets the Web

Magazine article Information Today

The Wall Street Journal Meets the Web

Article excerpt

The Wall Street Journal on the Web? The serious, rather staid, definitely unfrivolous, staunchly black-andwhite newspaper in the chaotic, mediadrenched, "hey, dude" culture of the Web? But there it is at wsj.com, The Wall Street Journal Interactive Edition. It is a pure Web product, but it holds firmly to WSJ tradition, like a proud immigrant who treasures the values of the motherland. Culture clashes aside, it works very well, since the crusty old Journal has adopted some of the best tricks of the newfangled Web.

Of course, adopting new information technologies is nothing new for Dow Jones. Over 20 years ago, when the Internet itself was barely off the drawing board, Dow Jones was introducing one of the first commercial online services in Dow Jones News/Retrieval. Since then there's been DowPhone, DowQuest, and DowVision, so it's no surprise at all to see Dow Jones staking a claim in the latest technological gold rush.

The Wall Street Journal Interactive Edition (WSJIE) has been followed with great interest by the Internet community, if only to see whether Dow Jones can make an electronic publication work. Certainly success comes hard on the Web, which is more like a graveyard than a gold mine for electronic publications. Nobody knows yet what works. If the publication is too much like the print version, there is no added value and no attraction. If it has a lot of technical wizardry, there is no way to make money on what the "readers" are willing to pay.

The WSJIE wants it both ways. It is unmistakably The Wall Street Journal, but with several very effective online stunts that the print version can't do. It is also the vanguard of a concerted plan for a multipart Dow Jones Web presence. DowVision appeared last fall, and in January the flagship of News/Retrieval itself, the Publications Library, established its imposing bulk in WSJIE. (See "Dow Jones Publications Library Moves to the Web," page 1.) The rest of News/Retrieval is coming throughout 1997.

Interactive Edition Is The Wall Street Journal

WSJIE closely resembles its print counterpart in content and form, a wise move since The Wall Street Journal is one of the world's most recognized and highly regarded brand names. Each day's edition has all of the stories and statistics from that morning's print paper, as well as additional content, including stories from the U.S. regional, European, and Asian editions, extra financial data from world financial markets, a sports section, and weather. Throughout the day, the two versions continue to diverge as new stories are added to WSJIE. It is updated continually in a 24-hour, seven-day cycle.

WSJIE's organization and design will also be comfortingly familiar to WSJ devotees. The regular order of the paper: Front Section, Marketplace, and Money and Investing, is maintained. Columns and departments-within the limitations of a monitor display-are also where you'd expect them. The page layout, typefaces, and logos are reassuringly maintained. The only things lacking are the delightful line drawings that enliven the front page. Come on now, Dow Jones, how hard can it be to scan those in?

This gives WSJIE a predominantly black/white/gray color scheme, but it is stylish in a restrained way and visually pleasing, especially when compared to Web sites that are overloaded with garish and slow-to-display colors. WSJIE does use color, sparingly but effectively, to draw your eye to icons and prompts. Most pages have a complete set of links, making it easy to navigate from page to page and section to section. Ads-yes, there are ads-are in color. They are generally placed along the side of the screen, primarily on the opening pages of sections. Most are unobtrusive, but a few animated ones are irritating and distracting.

New Web Tricks for an Old Dog

If WSJIE were nothing more than a real-time facsimile of the print paper, it would be valuable for its timeliness, but little else. …

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