Will Murdoch Kill The One Smart Part Of The WSJ's Paywall?

from the sounds-like-it dept

With Rupert Murdoch's recent talk about removing his sites from Google, some said that if you understood his comments in context, he was really talking more about copying the WSJ's "leaky" paywall strategy -- which lets users see full articles if they visit via Google. Of course, in that very interview, he appeared to not know how that leaky paywall works, claiming that it took people to a landing page with a couple of paragraphs rather than the full story. That's not true. It does that if you're linked from most other sites. But people who come via Google (or, I believe, Digg) get the full story automatically. The idea, from SEO experts, was to actually help Google drive more traffic.

Of course, that was before Murdoch suddenly decided that all this free promotion was "parasiting" his works (despite the fact that many of his own properties do the same thing. However, it looks like News Corp. may actually be considering ending the "leaky" part of its paywall, with the company's COO, Chase Carey, saying that the idea makes no sense:
"I don't think it makes sense... We don't want people going though a backdoor, or other channels..."
And now we learn how little the folks at News Corp. seem to understand the internet and the fundamental way that people want to interact with news these days. It's not just about sitting and receiving the end product. It's about being a part of the process -- and that includes sharing and spreading the news -- for free -- to others. Mark Cuban thinks (incorrectly, in my opinion) that Murdoch understands the value of people passing around links, which is why he says he wants to opt-out of Google (because search traffic isn't as valuable as traffic from Twitter or Facebook). But locking up all that content actually harms that viral-link value. People aren't going to share or spread a link if they know others can't use it. For years, for example, we've used those "backdoors" (i.e., Google News) which Carey bemoans to read stories in the WSJ that we post here. If they stop allowing that, then I won't read the WSJ any more, and the community of readers and commenters here will never hear from the WSJ again. It's difficult to see how that's a better option.

Amusingly, the first time that we ever wrote about this growing concept that people today want to "spread the news" and "share the news" more than they just want to receive the news was about five years ago -- before the WSJ had put up its leaky paywall. The point of that post was to note just how far the WSJ had fallen out of the conversation on news media -- since no one could send around a link to discuss things. Putting those "backdoors" into the paywall, at the very least, brought the WSJ somewhat back into the conversation. Blocking it now would make the Journal irrelevant again. It's difficult to see how that's a smart strategy at all.

Filed Under: backdoors, chase carey, paywalls, rupert murdoch, share the news, spread the news, wsj
Companies: news corp.


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  1. icon
    Jason Buberel (profile), 12 Nov 2009 @ 4:02pm

    Re: You may not...

    Overcast-

    You may not care, but there are certain aspects to the content available on the WSJ.com that are either mildly scarce or at least hard to find from other sources. That is why WSJ.com is one of the rare news sites that has a reasonably sized subscriber base.

    For people who live/breath within the financial and investment communities, the WSJ.com does have unique value. It is the casual WSJ.com visitors (you, me) who are not part of the close-knit community that Murdoch is apparently willing to lose.

    I for one can't wait until he makes his move.

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Insider Shop - Show Your Support!

Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

This site, like most other sites on the web, uses cookies. For more information, see our privacy policy. Got it
Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.