Thinking Ahead at The Wall Street Journal

When News Corporation bought The Wall Street Journal in 2007, coverage was expanded to include arts and entertainment and large color photos were placed on its front pages. While a classical music performance is still more likely to get reviewed by the WSJ, the changes were notable advancements for such a conservative paper. Today, the WSJ is again trying to modernize itself by making subscriptions available on the new Sony e-reader and sending a citizen journalist to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

In fact, it’s a News Corporation bonanza of innovation. Well, maybe that’s a bit strong, but the WSJ and New York Post will make monthly subscriptions available on the Sony e-reader, which should be available by the end of the year, for $14.99 a month. It’s a move designed to weaken Amazon Kindle’s strength in the e-reader market and is a good example of an open market creating a more level playing field.

In the newspapers industry’s continuing search for sustainable business models in the digital age, e-readers represent a potential source of revenue that would also cut down on printing costs.

Not content with e-readers, the WSJ is teaming up with its sister company MySpace to sponsor a contest that will send a citizen journalist to the World Economic Forum to be held this January in Davos, Switzerland. The contest stipulates that the journalist will use MySpace to make his or her reports from the conference.

The prospective journalist must answer a question demonstrating general knowledge of world affairs and from those answers a winning citizen-journalist will be chosen. Will the journalist, who will sit in on private meetings amongst WSJ editors, be a mouthpiece for News Corporation, or will he or she perform the journalist’s function of analyzing information?

Hopefully the winning contestant-cum-journalist will not be too well versed in economic terminology and will instead enter the forum informed more by his or her sense of fairness and with a mind to communicate his or her conscience to the readers. This, after all, is one of the promises of citizen-journalists.

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