WSJ’s New Real Estate

A man’s home may be his castle, but for Wall Street Journal readers, home is Mansion, the newspaper’s aspirationally titled Friday shelter section, which debuted last week. Because houses are all well and good, but, given the choice, aren’t mansions better?

“We all like to think of our home as a mansion, even if it is a humble abode, and we all have the license to aspire, so we have created Mansion to be the home of both aspiration and real estate realization,” WSJ managing editor Robert Thomson said in a statement announcing the launch.

The section bears a subhead with a quote from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet that is uttered by the titular heroine about midway through the play.

“O, I have bought the mansion of a love, But not possess’d it,” reads the subhead.

This expression of unrealized romance seems like a tragic allusion for an aspirational section about houses in a newspaper, but maybe the Journal editors never got to the end.

Mansion is littered with pictures of, well, mansions. In the premiere edition, readers learned that Maya Angelou has three lovely large homes and that Silicon Valley millionaires are going SoCal and buying oversized houses on the beach. Who can blame them? In London, pop idols and footballers are living in a converted mental asylum.

The back page doesn’t feature a mansion, because its subject, William Shatner, once lived in a normal-sized shack! Oh, the horror. It was certainly no starship Enterprise, but we all had to start somewhere.

The section is headed by editor Emily Gitter (formerly a deputy editor for the old Friday Journal). “Many of you already know Emily for her sharp editing skills, her excellent judgment and a wit as elegantly edgy as a rough-hewn granite benchtop in a just-refurbished Old Greenwich home,” said a memo announcing Ms. Gitter’s promotion last summer. Her sensibility sounds appropriate for a rustic mansion.

That isn’t the only change on Fridays. Last week, the Journal also debuted  a revamped—and renamed—arts and culture section, Arena, which takes a look at the art market but also covers sports. It’s an odd mix, but the clashing content is appropriately gladiatorial, considering the title. Arena’s ads are mostly for movies (because what is a theater if not an updated arena) that mansion-dwellers may be inclined to enjoy. A banner ad on the front page of the section quotes Sean Hannity calling Atlas Shrugged a “must-see film.”

Arena and Mansion don’t match the guilty-pleasure ridiculousness of the yuppyish “how we live now” that is the Times Styles or the sheer over-the-top voyeuristic pleasure of the Financial Times’s lifestyle sections (we are especially fond of the “How To Spend It” column), but they were certainly passable reads in the first week out.Even the advertising gets in on the action. Ads in Mansion are mostly all homes—and yes, they are all quite spacious. From our perch high above the fray in the content coliseum, we’ll give these gladiators a thumbs up and let them live to fight another day. <EM>WSJ</EM>’s New Real Estate