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Wine as “the good life”? The Wall Street Journal says so!



I’ve been watching the case of the New York Times for many years, to see what would be the fate of the Gray Lady. At the height of the Great Recession, the paper was said to be perilously close to going under, the result of (a) declining readership because younger people were not reading newspapers, and (b) the dramatic falloff in advertising that crippled nearly all print publications.

The Times tried to stave off its financial problems: they went to an online subscription model that didn’t work, and they laid off or bought out employees. A year or two ago, the paper seemed to enjoy a modest turnaround, but apparently it wasn’t enough: A new round of layoffs has occurred because the paper had not received enough voluntary buyouts to cover newsroom budget cuts.” Despite executive editor Dean Baquet saying “We are coming to the end of a painful period for the newsroom,” those of us who grew up with the Times and love it can only hope that, this time, the paper will survive, and I expect it will. I point this out only because the Times is the example par excellence of the difficult journey print pubs have had over the last decade or so. It’s not just that I prefer reading print over digital, although I do, it’s that the Times represents the culmination of an epoch that was centuries in the making in which the idea of independent journalism, free from the grasp of lucre, or the ignorance of ideology, was ascendant in America. When our Founding Fathers wrote the U.S. Constitution, with its First Amendment guarantee of Freedom of the Press, they did so with the understanding and assumption that the Press really was fearlessly free. I wonder if they would do the same thing now that personal opinion and for-profit hidden agenda has largely taken precedence over independent reporting.

Speaking of newspapers, many of my readers will know I’m no fan of the editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal. But the newspaper itself, when freed from the op-ed ideology of Mr. Murdoch, is top-rate, and I love, love, love this graphic they created for WSJ+,




which they tout as “a complimentary addition to your Wall Street Journal experience” for subscribers. How about that glass of wine? Don’t you just love it? The Journal is implying to readers—no, telling them, in compelling visual form and with all its magisterial New York City authority, that a glass of wine is as important to the complete, good life as anything else they could indulge in, from sports to fine art to “much more of the finer things of life.”

We can differ over our politics. But it’s wonderful that all of us, left, right, center, whatever, can agree that wine is central to the good life—the life that is examined, and self-examined, and enjoyed, with harm to no one–life that adds joy and laughter to the world. So bravo to the Wall Street Journal for putting wine right up there.

  1. It was not entirely out of a sense of selflessness that The Journal turned to its editors Dorothy Gaiter and John Brecher to inaugurate the 1998-2009 weekly “Tastings” wine column: it satisfied an editorial need as The Journal expanded its coverage of affluent lifestyle pursuits (as it rolled out a Saturday edition) . . . and created a new ad sales revenue stream through adjacent display ads. (An early and prominent “franchise position” advertiser: Riedel.)

    The Journal also promotes its WSJwine “wine club”: “a partnership between The Wall Street Journal and the world’s leading direct-to-home wine merchant. . . . WSJwine is operated independently of The Wall Street Journal’s news department.”

    (To my knowledge, none of the club’s touted wines have coincided with those mentioned or reviewed in the “Tastings” columns by Gaiter and Brecher, or the subsequent “On Wine” columns by U.S. edition columnists Lettie Teague and Jay McInerney, or European edition columnist Will Lyons.)

  2. doug wilder says:

    Bob, The WSJ WineClub is an example of broad based affiliate relationships that the merchant will ‘brand’ for just about any publication. It wouldn’t surprise me to learn that the writers at these institutions are not even aware of these relationships.

  3. Sustaining the growth will be a challenge, but the Times has done well with online subscriptions, with some 875,000 digital-only subscribers as of at the end of the last reported quarter, during which 44,000 subscribers were added.

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