What is The Wall Street Journal doing right? As other newspapers and magazine see falling circulation and for some closures, The Wall Street Journal has succeeded. "Editor & Publisher publishes the top 25 list here, which shows that the Wall Street Journal was the only newspaper in the top 25 to report a circulation increase. Its increase was modest — 0.61% — but an increase nonetheless."
Top 5 newspapers by circulation percentage increas or decline, October 2007 -March 2008:
USA TODAY -- (-7.46%)
WALL STREET JOURNAL -- 0.61%
NEW YORK TIMES -- (-3.55%)
L.A. TIMES -- (-6.55%)
WASHINGTON POST -- (-1.16%)
And not only did they do it right on the print side, they have been equally as successful with their web business. Where once it was foolish to require internet subscription to view content, that is exactly what the WSJ did and proved the skeptics wrong. With content behind a walled garden, WSJ makes it more valuable to be a subscriber in order to receive both print AND web content.
Perhaps it is that the WSJ represents a more niche audience of business readers. Unlike a more general interest paper with sections devoted to metro, sports, and business, the WSJ writes more national news and business pieces. It is this niche that may be their salvation.
There was some talk that the WSJ might add more general content including a sports section to their news. I'm not sure this will increase their audience. I view the WSJ has a companion paper to other news. By copying a NY Times or USA Today format, The Wall Street Journal might actually hurt their credibility and value. Their circulation strength may be a result of not being a general interest paper; so far those papers are seeing declines while WSJ retains its audience.