I am a long-time reader of the Wall Street Journal online. Sharp well-researched business news, excellently judged international reports, I have seldom felt the need to get an actual paper copy of the WSJ in my hands.
Until this weekend , when - lured by an offer from the Delta airline who wanted me to unload air miles I was unlikely to use - I subscribed to the paper delivered to my home every day, sheathed in plastic to cope with the vagaries of New England weather.
The Saturday paper was a splendid example to start with. I read it in a way I never read the online product; I found stories that tickled my fancy in one corner or another and items that surprised me as I browsed in a way that I never do when scrolling online.
The review section leads off with a great article on Winston Churchill, by Boris Johnson, from his new book: The Churchill Factor: How One Man Made History .
Under the heading Churchill’s Indomitable Legacy , a side heading points out, “He published more words than Dickens, won a Nobel prize for literature and helped win two world wars.”
I finish the Churchill piece ,marvelling that my home city, Dundee, once threw him out as an MP. You’ll note I am not starting on Page One “ “US To Send More Troops into Irag” as I would do with the website.
Danger! Grasshopper mind at work. I am then captivated by the heavyweight glossy WSJ magazine, 136 pages in all, that reminds me of Vogue (some of the ads are very similar too). This is the Innovators Issue. They are ALL stars. On Page 124 I meet Reshma Saujani, the founder of Girls Who Code, whose ambitious plan is to teach one million young women to program by 2002.
In the magazine’s what’s new section, I discover that a device called a Kinetic Energy Recovery System , designed to capture and save energy when Formula One Race Cars brake fiercely- has been developed to provide energy on remote Scottish islands when the wind drops and wind turbines have temporarily stopped delivering.
Back to the Review section : The Photo of the Week is a flock of tens of thousands of starlings dominating the sky at Gretna Green. Headline: The Perfect Swarm.
In The Arena section we meet Xin Li, former basketball star and professional model who in the high-powered world of art auctions is said to be Christie’s secret weapon in matching Asian billionaires with masterpieces. A client of hers bought Andy Warhol’s “Little Electric Chair” for $10.5 million in May.
In the main paper a writer explains to me why traffic piles up in endless jams and why if we all went slower, she says, we might get to our destination faster.
In a nutshell I enjoyed the paper in my hands and I got more out of it. My question: Have newspapers given up too easily on selling the virtue of the printed product to readers.? America of course still has a sophisticated home delivery system so that makes the WSJ Home Delivery possible. And tomorrow I will enjoy the Sunday New York Times and the Boston Globe delivered the same way.
Perhaps of course I am giving my age away in insisting I still like printed papers. I am a great admirer of Martin Clarke’s Mail Online which has become such a great success worldwide. However, I have to confess that I have a friend who makes frequent trips to London - and she brings me back the printed Daily Mail that I know and love each time.