The Journal newspapers, a fast-growing chain of suburban papers that published twice weekly, went daily yesterday in an attempt to capitalize on the demise of The Washington Star.
The papers' new mode was proclaimed in a full-color, 3 3/4-inch deep promotional strip below the Journal's nameplate on the front page: "WOW! Look What's in the New Daily Journal."
A record 165,000 copies of The Journal's five suburban editions, 26 pages each, rolled off the Springfield presses early in the morning. New features added to the paper included a world and national news section, comics, a business report, a crossword puzzle, Dear Abby, daily horoscopes and a trivia quiz. Also featured will be new daily second sections, varying among sports, people, food, fashion and home decorating, and outdoors and entertainment.
The Journal will publish Monday through Friday, with no editions on weekends. Its publisher, Geoffrey Edwards, said 40 employes have been added to the staff of 80 that reported and edited the news when the paper was a twice-weekly publication.
Edwards said the papers, distributed as separate editions in Montgomery, Prince George's, Fairfax and Arlington counties and in Alexandria, will continue to emphasize suburban community news and local sports. As before, it will ignore the District of Columbia both in local news coverage and in circulation.
The appearance of the daily Journal a month after The Star ceased publication follows patterns set in other large metropolitan areas, where city-based evening papers have gone out of business and have been replaced by suburban dailies stressing local news and an appeal to suburban advertisers.
Edwards said Journal subscriptions have risen by 8,000 to 143,000 since the paper announced on Aug. 4, three days before the closing of The Star, that it would go daily. The Star's circulation was 323,000 when it ceased publication. The Washington Post's daily circulation is currently more than 700,000.
Edwards said he believes that increases in Journal home delivery rates, from $16.95 to $29.95 a year, will "not be a deterrent" to increasing circulation. He said a "pretty concentrated" advertising campaign concentrating on commercials broadcast during local television and radio news programs will begin this week and "should bring our totals higher."
The Journal has achieved its present circulation in less than 10 years. Currently owned by Army Times Publishing Co., a privately held corporation based in Southwest Washington, The Journal started in 1972 with one weekly paper in Alexandria and 2,000 subscribers.
Edwards admitted The Journal has never turned a profit. However, he said "if we'd stayed twice a week this year, we would have shown a profit for the first time . . . . We think that by the time the five-day paper becomes profitable, we will have a very good business going." Edwards would not say when the company expects the daily Journals to begin finishing in the black.
Part of the paper's formula involves holding production and distribution costs to a minimum. All of The Journal's suburban editions are printed in its modern, nonunion Springfield plant, and wages for editorial employes are as low as $200 a week, less than a third of what many reporters are paid at The Post. Reporters and editors work in regional offices around the Beltway and transmit copy to the Springfield plant by courier.
The key to The Journal's growth has been its distribution system. Where other papers require trucks and drivers, distributors and carriers, 96 percent of The Journals printed are delivered by mail