As publisher of a magazine called Washington Journalism Review, Roger Kranz usually writes about journalists, but now he's looking for journalists to write about him.

Kranz's magazine is in trouble.

After four issues - and four different printers - Washington Journalism Review is between $30,000 and $40,000 in debt.

The latest issue, just now on the newstands, will be the last unless Kranz can come up with the one thing that has eluded him since the magazine idea began fermenting - money.

So Kranz is talking: "We've got four possibilities. We can form a limited partnership with private investors. We can mrge with another magazine. We can go back to being nonprofit and maybe affiliate with a university. Or we can go bankrupg."

Describing the magazine's debts as "relatively small" Kranz insists he has "a good relationship with my creditors. They know I'm doing everything possible not to go into bankruptcy."

Candor has been one of Kranz's faults ever since he and Valerie McGhee started Washington Journalism Review.

Now he's telling the story of the struggling young magazine publisher who's looking for an investor - "or an angel" - to put half a million into making WJR profitable.

Kranz's tale reveals the formidable amount of capital required to get even a small magazine off the ground and conversely, the tremendous profit potential of a successful publication.

If WJR makes it, Kranz projects, it can become a monthly with a circulation of 50,000, grossing $1 million a year and turning a 35 percent profit.

That's a long way from the present reality: A quarterly publication that seems to come out every four or five months, a guaranteed circulation of 10,000, but only 3,200 paid subscribers and 2,000 newstand buyers, and accomulated debts that are roughly equal to total comolative advertising revenues.

On the negative side, too, is the current history of journalism reviews. The latest to fold and among the most successful was (more) magazine, which recently gave up after about eight years and $800,000 in losses.

James Adler, the last owner of (more) salvaged some of his $400,000 investment by claiming a tax deduction for donating the magazine to Columbia University, which underwrites Columbia Journalism Review, the only solid survivor in the field.

Kranz figures the recent death of (more) is good news to Washington Journalism Review, because there now is less competition.

"The primary reason (more) failed and other journalism reviews have gone out of business is that they haven't had a sound business base. They were started by journalists who had little or no experience is publishing," he said.

"A magazine like (more), with a circulation of 20,000 and with that potential for advertising, should not lose money if the people know what they are doing."

Kranz says his magazine has "twice as many pages of advertising in the first issue as any issue of (more).

Washington Journalism Review also build a reputation as a solid publication by recruiting quality news gatherers to write about what they do best. But good journalism is not necessarily good business.

What Kranz has to sell mostly is what lots of other people are touting: the Washington market. Although the majority of WJR's subscribers don't live in Washington and 25 percent aren't even journalists, he's promising to deliver a most desirable audience.

There are 5,000 people working daily in the news business in Washington, estimates Austin Kiplinger, the newsletter magnate, and at least that many government media relations specialists who need to know what's going on in the news business.

But the money to be made with a journalism magazine comes not from the subscribers - who barely pay the cost of soliciting subscriptions and mailing their copies - but from the advertisers.

The profits, publisher Kranz projects, will come from the corporations, trade associations and special interest groups that advertise in WJR in hopes of influencing the journalists who read it.

The success of the magazine, intended to uphold and improve the highest standards of journalism, in the end depends on the largess of those who have the most to gain when those standards are corrupted.

Even that irony will be lost if Kranz is unsuccessful in finding capital. And the biggest news town in America will have no news about the news business.