International Papers

WSJ Declares War on the FT 

A bulked-out and redesigned Wall Street Journal Europe made its first appearance on newsstands Monday. It looks nice. The old WSJE looked exactly like the American edition, though slimmer and with European news priorities. The new one introduces color photographs, has a more horizontal “European” layout, and has a third section, called “Networking,” about the new economy—”your roadmap into the future.” Instead of its familiar front-page combination of news briefs and long “soft” features, it leads boldly on the right of the page with a news story spread over three columns (its columns are also wider than before).

Monday’s WSJ Europe lead was the merger between Pfizer and Warner-Lambert to create the world’s second-largest pharmaceutical company (the largest was created by the recent merger between two British companies, Glaxo Wellcome and Smith-Kline Beecham). The same story led the Financial Times, which is competing with the WSJ to become the world’s leading business newspaper. The WSJ has by far the bigger circulation (a world total of 2,367,000 copies compared to the FT’s 441,000), but most of it is in the United States. The FT is much stronger in Europe, selling 135,000 copies on the continent compared to the WSJ’s 67,000, and 188,000 in the United Kingdom compared to the WSJ’s 16,000.

The WSJ’s plan, involving an investment of $60 million, is to double its European circulation within five years. In an article in Monday’s edition, the Brussels-based editor of WSJ Europe, Frederick Kempe, wrote, “Europe’s business landscape is changing dramatically. Just as the companies we cover, we see an historic opportunity for growth in Europe. … Head-spinning changes in technology are altering how we live, work and invest, creating a truly new economy. America may lead in many areas, but the digital age plays to many European strengths. Europe is already the market leader in mobile telephony and transport technology. It has the competitive advantages of high education and a rich culture.”

One wonders what would be the point of Pakistan signing the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. The daily newspaper Dawn led Monday with a government pledge that there will be no rollback of the country’s nuclear weapons program even if it signs the treaty. It quoted Foreign Minister Abdul Sattar saying that Pakistan is a nuclear power and will remain one. It will also continue to test nuclear weapons if India does so. Later Monday, Pakistan test-fired a new short-range surface-to-surface missile. A government spokesman didn’t say if it was equipped to carry a nuclear warhead.

In India, which President Bill Clinton is due to visit next month, Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee said India is ready to face nuclear war with Pakistan, according to the Times of India. In another story, the paper quoted national security adviser Brajesh Mishra saying that India has no plans to get into a nuclear arms race with China. “We are not, definitely not, planning to catch up with China in the number of delivery systems or warheads,” he said in Germany. On the Clinton visit, Asian Age of India reported Monday from Washington that his entourage will number at least 100 and “may include his daughter Chelsea and First Dog Buddy.” The paper said that Hillary Clinton would not be in the tour group. Al-Hayat, a London-based Arabic newspaper, reported Sunday that America’s most-wanted man in the region, suspected terrorist Osama Bin Laden, has brought a doctor to Afghanistan to treat him for serious kidney problems.

The Jörg Haider story rumbled on, with Ha’aretz in Israel running another editorial Monday praising the United States and western Europe for their stand against Austria for letting his far-right Freedom Party into government. This is not interference in Austria’s internal affairs, but defensive action, it said, because extremist governments have proved that their aspirations are not confined within their own borders. “Austria, which has the allowed racist ideology to put down strong political roots to the point that its representatives have entered its government, cannot complain about the response of the enlightened world,” it said. “On the other hand, its government can take comfort in the warm support it has earned from Syria.”

“Haider votes in Finland” was a headline in the Finnish tabloid Ilta-Sanomat Sunday. The European Union’s measures against Austria were an issue in the Finnish presidential election campaign, with the centrist candidate Esko Aho attacking them, and his Social Democrat opponent, Tarja Halonen, supporting them. Halonen, 56, described in Corriere della Sera of Milan as “a divorced single mother happily cohabiting with a man who has no intention of marrying her” won the election and became Finland’s first woman head of state despite the popularity of Aho’s positions on the Haider issue and family values (he took his beautiful wife Kirsti and their four children everywhere with him on the campaign). Corriere said she won because the country has more female voters than male voters, and the women were determined to break the glass ceiling for the first time, even if that meant jettisoning a man known as “the Kennedy of Kannus” (Aho’s hometown) because of a supposed resemblance to JFK.

Now is the time to visit Italy. La Repubblica of Rome reported Monday that tourism in Venice and Florence fell between 15 percent and 30 percent last month because of the “boomerang effect” of the Vatican’s Jubilee celebrations. There was so much talk of the country being flooded with visitors that potential tourists took fright and stayed home, the paper said.