How to save newspapers? Launch magazines

Interesting headline in Advertising Age: Top Two U.S. Newspapers Want to Be in Magazines. Quote: “Both The Wall Street Journal and USA Today are developing glossy magazines for distribution within their traditional newsprint flagships, according to company executives and media buyers familiar with the work.”

These are the ideas: The WSJ would convert its “weekend edition” to a magazine format and USA Today is considering launching a monthly lifestyle magazine.

Quick observation: The WSJ magazine is a great idea that will evolve its weekend edition into a format more suited for its content and its in-home, Saturday delivery. If the numbers work, I think the magazine format is a better vehicle for the publication — I’m a subscriber and feel I’d be more likely to read it as a magazine. As for the USA Today idea, sounds interesting and has potential, but it will all depend on the execution. Sounds a bit less viable to me than the WSJ idea, but as a monthly, there’s less risk. Indeed, if it’s distributed as an insert in the paper once a month, it’s very little risk, as they will quickly discover whether or not they can sell it to advertisers. If they distribute it via newspapers in the Gannett chain — as they do USA Weekly — they can avoid the start-up hassles that the Life magazine re-re-launch faced a couple of years ago when Time Inc. attempted a Friday distribution of a lifestyle magazine. Gannett already has the circulation and distribution components in place, unlike Time Inc.

Both ideas make sense to me, as I’m sure I’ll explain in greater detail later.

Later: has a funny headline for this news: “Two Newspapers We’re Semi-Regularly Forced to Read are Introducing Magazines We Almost-Definitely Won’t”