After a week of reading the new Wall Street Journal, I'm ready to say that overall, I like it. The new format is much cleaner, and I like the slimmer version of the paper. When it comes to the new content, I have mixed feelings.
I certainly understand Mitch's take, that the WSJ could end up like USA Today. To an extent, I agree. I don't like the increased focus on "leisure for the wealthy lifestyle." But, I disagree with Mitch that a focus on more commentary is a bad thing. My problem with the business press is that the same companies are covered over and over and over. Most articles are about huge companies like WalMart, Microsoft, and GE, or about some hot new startup with new technology that will change the world. Not much is written about companies in the steel industry, or any other industry that is considered unsexy. But the WSJ covers some of that. They write about a lot of companies that other periodicals rarely cover, and there are good things to be learned from many of those articles. (As a side note, the most interesting annual report I read in 2006 was for a self-storage company, which I found to be a fascinating industry)
So, getting to the point, the reason I like the new WSJ is that I get the commentary version of some industries and companies that don't normally get covered. That is something the business blogosphere doesn't do. Of course, I worry that the trend will push the WSJ to water things down, but I hope they resist that pull. I like to think that the high quality of articles provides a "barrier to entry" for my business career. Some people can't read them, and end up missing out on the knowledge to be gained from studying various companies and industries.