As millions of Western Europeans passed their newsstands on the way to work Monday morning, they were greeted by the famous, but relatively unfamiliar, front page of the Wall Street Journal, presented for the first time in a brand-new European edition.
The Journal's European edition is assembled by a team of some 40 reporters and editors in offices in Brussels' Hilton Hotel and printed in a plant in nearby Holland. It is the first major daily newspaper venture in Europe after years of high press mortality. The 16- to 20-page issue will aim to provide ''complete coverage of the US business day,'' says its editor and publisher, Norman Pearlstine.
While much of the paper's news content will be picked up from the Journal's American and Asian editions, some two pages, including the editorial page, will be especially written for the European edition.
The parent company is the highly successful Dow Jones & Co., which also publishes Barron's and is involved with the Associated Press in a combined financial news service. Dow Jones hopes the new European undertaking will follow the example of the seven-year-old Asian Wall Street Journal, which is reported to have recently broken into the black. Mr. Pearlstine, who heads the European staff, launched the Asian Wall Street Journal.
The situation in Europe is considered by media experts to be vastly different and perhaps less hospitable. They indicate while the Asian edition had little competition, the European daily faces rivalry from the Paris-based International Herald Tribune and London's Financial Times, as well as national dailies. Some two-thirds of the Herald Tribune's 150,000 circulation is in Europe, while about 32,000 of the Financial Times's special international edition is circulated on the Continent.
The Financial Times is also adding a special United States business news section. Officials of all three newspapers say they don't see their publications as being in competition. Industry sources comment that this may be true concerning readership, but the publications may clash for advertising.
While there are no official targets, reports say the Journal's initial press run in Europe will total 10,000 copies, and that it hopes to reach 25,000 in five years. A special airmail international edition of the Journal has had 7,500 subscribers in Europe. The subscription fee for the familiar, gray newspaper with no photographs is $235, but charter subscribers are being offered a 15 percent discount.