Does The Wall Street Journal Risk Becoming Irrelevant?

from the learn-to-play-online dept

Last year, Adam Penenberg knocked the NY Times for becoming increasingly irrelevant in an online world. By locking up their archives, they made it difficult to be found in Google — and in an online world, if you’re not found on Google, you barely exist. If that was bad, things may be much worse for the Wall Street Journal, according to Penenberg. We’ve covered this issue before. Many people are giving up on the Wall Street Journal, in part because they can’t link to the stories. In an online world where many people feel that sharing the news is as important (if not more important) than reading it, this makes the Wall Street Journal useless. While the Journal has been able to coast by on its (well deserved) reputation, Penenberg points out that the younger generation that’s being raised online has other options. The Wall Street Journal’s strategy works in a world where there aren’t other options, and everyone learns that to get the day’s business news you go to the WSJ. It’s a strategy for the status quo. However, it’s not a strategy for bringing on new readers when those new readers are already overwhelmed by news everywhere they look. So, while the WSJ’s strategy may be able to last for some time, it’s going to increasingly come under pressure — which is why Penenberg suggests they throw up the doors now. Of course, it’s unlikely the Journal will listen. Instead, they’re trying to do things like start a weekend paper edition — because what we all want in our lives these days is more paper.


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Comments on “Does The Wall Street Journal Risk Becoming Irrelevant?”

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16 Comments
sly squirrel says:

scandals, can't afford netjets

I usually read the in depth articles about what went wrong, or scandals in the WSJ. I don’t look to it for any data, nor do I find that the sections other than page 1 with the start of the long stories in either the left or right column to be of any use. there are better online or local paper sources for that. who wants to see slick crap you can’t possibly buy in the personal sections, etc. and unfortunately, I can’t do netjets.

Ranger says:

Re: scandals, can't afford netjets

Not everyone can and should compete online.

A weekend paper IS a good idea, if everyone else is dropping them and/or going online.

They are the WSJ. Why *should* they open their archives? So that any blogger can link to them, in fact, “re-use” their content for their own gains.

They have a demographic now. Perhaps that demo really doesn’t want to read online. Maybe they don’t want the online generation at all.

Should Drudge start a paper?

Mike (profile) says:

Re: Re: scandals, can't afford netjets

The point is just that they’re going to have difficulty attracting new readers. Over time, that becomes a problem.

And, it’s not about anyone “re-using” their content, but sharing it — which helps to promote the WSJ. Right now, they get very little promotion.

That’s fine, if that’s what they want to do, but it might mean they start to run into trouble when they can’t sign up new users any more.

RJD says:

Not yet

Blogs are not going to replace the WSJ anytime soon unless the Blogger is a known and trusted (relatively) source of information. When you read a published newspaper (on or off line) you expect and generally get an honest (though often biased) story.

A number of business rags have yet to make their content freely available … most who read these are reading them to make money and generally are willing to spend money to make it.

Let people tie to your content is all good and well to drive eyes to your site .. but it assumes you’ll get something of value by having more eyes. Usually revenue derived from advertising.

This is fine for rags on/off line that use advertising for their primary revenue source but a number of periodicals still get their money via subscriptions. It may be ‘old school’ but it’s a fairly proven model with an easy way of keep a constant cash flow.

All that said, I don’t subscribe to the WSJ paper but I do subscribe to the on-line edition as well as Barron’s Magezine. I do prefer the paper addition as I can look at it in a leisurely way versus having to be tied to a computer. But the price diff is/was enough to send me to the online editions. I still go to the library to read them on weekends as mouse-clicking has yet to be conveniet as thumbing through.

Mike (profile) says:

Re: Not yet

This is fine for rags on/off line that use advertising for their primary revenue source but a number of periodicals still get their money via subscriptions. It may be ‘old school’ but it’s a fairly proven model with an easy way of keep a constant cash flow.

That’s the whole point. It may be fairly proven now, but the question is will it be able to continue. You assume it will always be that way. Penenberg points out many reasons why that seems unlikely.

Besides, you missed the point on bloggers. Neither of us are saying bloggers will *replace* the WSJ. Not at all. In fact, we’re saying that it’s other news sources that are available online. It’s just that the bloggers are the ones who are spreading the news by linking to it… and by not linking to the WSJ, it lowers the level of exposure the WSJ gets — and that’s the issue. If a younger generation that finds its news sources online never hears much about the Journal, why would they ever pay for it?

Ranger says:

Re: Re: Interesting point.

Hey Mike:

As you say, how will the WSJ find new readers?

But how did they found new readers in the 1970’s?

I know what you’re saying. Free PR from bloggers. More eyeballs. And a generation growing up reading Drudge/CNN/blogs, will they even want to read a newspaper in a few years, when they are “mature” enough for the WSJ?

But the other side of that is roll-up, plastic screen technology. Some basic stuff is off the assembly lines now, and I can see within 10 years this might save newspapers altogether.

Is the WSJ thinking of this? Hell no. But I really shouldn’t defend them, because I think most major newspapers have no clue on how to handle/integrate online editions.

RJD says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Interesting point.

OK, I’m not being uppity but what do you consider competent free alternatives to the WSJ ? Please direct me to 3 (I’m serious) such sources. They should be sources you would consider making investment decisions based upon.

And I very much agree with the statement that getting the paper once a day is a lost tradition though it’s only because people have found alterative competent sources. Our paper has four sections (World/Region/Sports/DayBreak=comics,TV,horoscopes, entertainment). The world and Sports news is free available in real time from several competent sources. The regional news is only available in the newspaper with sparactic content available on the town website. The daybreak section is pretty much available in pieces from a number of sites but nowhere is it aggregated… which is pretty much what a paper is trying to do for it’s community.

Can this be done better on line ? You betcha !!! Is someone going to … eventually.

Aaron de Oliveira (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Interesting point.

“Please direct me to 3 (I’m serious) such sources.”
Mostly I use Yahoo!News, Google News and other news aggregates to stay abrest of change in the business world. When something strikes my fancy for an investment, I check them out at places like Motley Fool.
This tiered approach provides me with all the information in the WSJ and more.
(I’m not sure if that counts as 2 or 3 sources for investing info)

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