Report: to get social-networking makeover

Newspaper site is expected to launch "Journal Community" to allow paying subscribers to comment on individual stories, create discussion groups on specific topics, and seek advice.

The Wall Street Journal's Web site is getting a makeover, borrowing a page from social networking.

The newspaper site is expected to launch "Journal Community" on Tuesday to allow paying subscribers to comment on individual stories, create discussion groups on specific topics, and ask one another for advice, according to a report Sunday by the Associated Press. Like social networks Facebook or MySpace, the community will allow subscribers to create personal profiles. But instead of missives on favorite movies and music, these profiles will feature subscribers' real names, job details, and interests, according to the report.

The newspaper hopes that, by embracing social-networking tools, it can attract more people to its site for longer stays, Alan Murray, a deputy managing editor who oversees the site's editorial operations, told the AP.

"We believe that in the future, social networks are going to be an important means of distributing content and of spreading news, and we want to be a part of those networks," Murray told the AP.

"There's no technology here that you can't get at other places," Murray said. "What we have that you can't get anywhere else is the Journal community, the Journal subscriber base."

The newspaper hopes that use of real names in discussions will increase the quality of discussions as opposed to other sites that allow users to employ pseudonyms where discussions often devolve into personal attacks.

The newspaper also plans to change its layout to help nonpaying visitors navigate and identify free, ad-supported content. Subscription-only items will be noted with a small key icon, reportedly to reduce reader frustration when clicking on stories, while showing visitors all that they are missing in an effort to recruit new subscribers.

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