Another Wall Street Journal-related post. There’s been a lot of talk lately about Murdoch lifting the Online Journal’s paywall. In an August 8 conference call with analysts and investors, he was asked whether he had been thinking about it. His reply: “Yes, we are currently debating that, both within Dow Jones and in News Corporation and we’ve certainly come to no decision yet. It would be a very, I think be an expensive thing to do in the short-term. In the long-term, it may be a wonderful thing to do. But we’re looking at it closely.”
A free Journal would certainly be a boon to those of us interested in China, because the Journal, and Dow Jones newswires, has some of the best English-language coverage of the business and political scene here. If you read our daily briefs, you might have clicked on a few links to Journal stories, only to be stopped in your tracks by their paywall. Let’s hope Murdoch wins the argument and lets the Journal go free. Along with increased traffic, and the argument goes, increased ad revenue, a free-to-read Journal also means increased influence, which is something Murdoch has never been quick to turn down.
Here are some related links exploring the argument of a paid versus free Journal. Murdoch’s decision on this could well affect the way all media think about paywalls, since the Times’ walled-off section, Times Select, is reportedly faltering now as well.
Businessweek: The Case for Freeing the WSJ Online – According to this article, the Journal could make more than the Times in online ad revenues because it’s more targeted.
Silicon Alley Insider: Running the Numbers: Why Newspapers Are Screwed – Henry Blodget, a man who knows a little about fiddling with numbers, runs a thought experiment using the New York Times.