In the world of Pursuits, The Wall Street Journal’s planned monthly glossy, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison is a cover boy, money advice for the rich is a regular feature and there are endless photos of boats and planes.
Pursuits won’t launch until next September—though it’s speculated that Rupert Murdoch may try to push up the start date—but already a prototype has been laid out and approved by Mr. Murdoch, according to a knowledgeable Dow Jones source. Mr. Murdoch gave the green light in a recent 45-minute meeting where he asked lots of questions and raised no apparent objections, said the source, who was briefed on the meeting.
The prototype leaves little doubt as to who are the magazine’s target readers—and advertisers. In one version, Mr. Ellison was on the cover. There was also a front-of-the-book section comprised of “snippets with a sense of humor.” One sample story idea offered advice on art collecting, another told readers how to tell the difference between vintage and counterfeit wine, and a third examined how wealthy families manage their estates. Also included, according to the source, “is the usual fun stuff: books and boats and planes and cars.” As one person who was interviewed for an editorial position, and declined, put it: “This isn’t going to be The Economist.”
Only one official hire has been made—Jamie Friedman Altschul was named associate publisher and advertising director—but there are plans for a big design team, including lots of photographers. The writing would come mostly from freelancers and Journal staffers, though whether reporters will be paid a freelance rate to write for the magazine has not yet been decided. Stories are expected to run twice the length of A1 stories now.
“There can be an intimate look at the lives of the wealthy because they are comfortable talking to The Journal—especially in a magazine format,” said the source.
Also, it doesn’t hurt if the magazine is kind to these tycoons. There’s a fine line between an aggressive monthly magazine and something resembling other soft-hitting glossies like Haute Living, or Trump magazine. How The Journal will avoid going that way—if indeed it will—has not been outlined by editors.
While no editorial hires have been made, Robert Frank, a staffer who has focused on the lifestyles of the wealthy, both in his 2007 book, Richistan, and his current Journal blog, is the leading candidate to take the editorship, according to two sources. Mr. Frank declined an interview for this story, but a look at his blog indicates that he has the sensibility for a how-they-spend-it magazine. One entry reads, “Indeed … in several recent blog posts, I’ve argued that the new class war isn’t between the haves and have-nots, but between the haves and the have-mores. It’s about Wall Street bankers versus higher-paid hedge-fund managers and bio-chemists versus bio-tech entrepreneurs.”
The entry continues: “Inequality isn’t just rising: It’s rising up the wealth ladder.”
A Journal spokesman wouldn’t make the associate publisher and advertising director, Ms. Altschul, available for comment. Marcus Brauchli, The Journal’s managing editor, did not return a call from The Observer.