Wall Street Journal to Go Free Online
This news is a couple of days old but this is the first I’ve heard of it: The Wall Street Journal‘s website will soon be free.
Rupert Murdoch, the chairman of the News Corporation, said today that he intended to make access to The Wall Street Journal’s Web site free, trading subscription fees for anticipated ad revenue. “We are studying it and we expect to make that free, and instead of having one million, having at least 10 million-15 million in every corner of the earth,” Mr. Murdoch said, referring to The Journal’s online readership.
The Web site, one of the few news sites globally to successfully introduce a subscription model, currently has around one million subscribers, which generates about $50 million in user fees.
WSJ has managed, like National Journal and a handful of others, to charge for niche content that its readers consider essential. Some great publications — Slate, the New York Times, and others — failed.
Still, I think Murdock is making the right move. While advertising sales can be unpredictable and cyclical, it’s hard to believe that maximizing readership isn’t the smartest strategy for the long term.