WSJ will fade into…
…irrelavance, argues the author of this article.
…Nevertheless, the Journal faces an intractable problem. Because you have to subscribe to access both current news articles and the archive, the Journal is leaving only a faint footprint in cyberspace. As with The New York Times, which insists that readers register to view news and pay $3 per article in the archive, the Journal barely shows up on Google or any other search engine. I googled “Enron” — an issue the Journal covered exhaustively, and which two of its reporters even wrote a book about — and not one article appeared within the first 25 pages (250 results.)
…Since most people refuse to pay for WSJ stories, most bloggers are reluctant to link to them. It also has an impact on anyone who uses the web for research — and there are a lot of us. As importantly, the next generation of readers is growing up by accessing news over the internet, and one place they are not surfing to is WSJ.com. With their habits being formed now, there is little chance the Journal will become part of their lives, either now or in the future.
As a result, there is a meme that has begun to take hold that questions the Journal’s long-term relevancy. It began, I believe, last fall with John Battelle, founder of the defunct Industry Standard, who realized he couldn’t remember the last time he had read The Wall Street Journal, even though he is a subscriber. Since he couldn’t share links with his community (read: bloggers), he ended up passively boycotting it. Battelle suggested the Journal partially open up its doors to bloggers by allowing them to link to specific stories, which they could share with their readers, but if they wanted to access any other part of the site, they’d have to pay up like everybody else.
That’s an interesting network externality. I guess I have done the same too w.r.t New York Times articles (as the article says, they require you to register). On the other hand, the reason I registered with New York Times was because many of the links on Rajesh Jain’s blog referred to NY Times. I haven’t regretted it, but there’s a big difference between registered content and paid content. And like the author of this article argues, blogging induced externalities are possibly going to make it even harder for paid content publishers.