The Wall Street Journal announced it will launch a YouTube channel today that features “soft news” instead of “hard news.”  The channel will showcase “Off Duty,” a daily lifestyle show based on the eponymous section of WSJ Weekend, the Journal’s Saturday paper.

Hosted by Wall Street Journal reporter Wendy Bounds, “Off Duty” will offer on-demand content from many of its namesake’s features, as well as other culture coverage from the Journal – from food to fashion, music and movies, travel to tech.  The show will air each business day at 6 p.m. ET on and WSJ Live, the Journal’s interactive video application, followed immediately by on-demand availability on YouTube and additional channels. Live episodes begin on Monday, February 6.

According to a press release, episodes of “Off Duty” will regularly feature a range of topics presented by reporters and editors from across the Journal and Dow Jones, including:

  • Regular contributions from Journal critics and columnists including Joe Morgenstern (film), Jim Fusilli (music), Dan Neil (auto) and Lettie Teague (wine);
  • Recipe how-to’s from Off Duty’s “Slow Food Fast” columnist Kitty Greenwald along with “WSJ Test Kitchen”;
  • “Heard on the Runway” with a round-up of the week’s fashion news and trends;
  • “WSJ After Hours” offering an insider’s look at the newest trends, social scenes and fashion statements of New York City nightlife;
  • Additional segments focused on special events such as Fashion Week, the Grammy Awards, Academy Awards and more.

Launch week will include special segments on Super Bowl XLVI, with a roundtable of Journal sports reporters on-site in Indianapolis; a sit-down with the creators of Animal Planet’s annual “Puppy Bowl”; and an interview with celebrity chef Donatella Arpaia discussing tips for a successful party spread.  In addition, the Journal’s Lee Hawkins will sit down with four successful music acts to discuss how they are confronting the industry’s dramatic changes – including Paul Stanley of Kiss, Grammy Award-winner Cee-Lo Green, multi-platinum rapper Soulja Boy, and global dance group Far East Movement.

OppenheimerFunds is the exclusive launch sponsor for The Wall Street Journal’s YouTube channel.

What does this announcement mean to video marketers and producers?

It means that the Journal, which is published by Dow Jones & Company, a division of News Corporation, has left money on the table.  Instead of covering American economic and international business topics, as well as financial news and issues, the Journal has “gone soft.”  Its YouTube channel is going to primarily deal with commentary, entertainment, arts, and lifestyle.

Now, there are viewers interested in soft news and infotainment.  But will viewers watch a YouTube channel from the Journal that features:

  • The least serious subjects: Arts and entertainment, sports, lifestyles, “human interest”, and celebrities.
  • The least timely topics: There is no precipitating event triggering the story, other than a reporter’s curiosity.

But, there is an audience – even on YouTube – for hard news and reporting on “serious” subjects, where common journalistic standards are upheld by the reporters.  Professional journalism is supposed to place more emphasis on research, fact-checking, and the public interest than its “non-journalistic” counterparts.

The idea of hard news embodies two key concepts:

  • Seriousness: Politics, economics, crime, war, and disasters are considered serious topics, as are certain aspects of law, business, science, and technology.
  • Timeliness: Stories that cover current events – the progress of a war, the results of an election, the breaking out of a fire, a significant statement, the freeing of a prisoner, an economic report of note.

So, who should this audience turn to for hard news on YouTube?  Maybe they’ll find what they’re looking for on the Associated Press channel.  Possibly they’ll find it on the Slate News Channel.  But they won’s see it on the Wall Street Journal’s new YouTube channel.

And if viewers really want to watch something more entertaining about pop culture, then they should check out the new YouTube channel from The Onion.  Check out the video below.  Reggie tries not to agree with Doc as they discuss the soon-to-be Super Bowl losers, who the hell Marco Scutaro is, and Tom Coughlin’s impending death at the hands of Bill Belichick.