Murdoch extends WSJ Paywall to iPhone

Matt Bowman · October 5, 2009 · Short URL:

Starting in January, the last frontier of free WSJ content will be fenced off. published an infographic recently about the death of the newspaper industry. Hidden in the graphs is a clue to the industry's afterlife....

mint death of the news

Did you catch it? There's one, only one, of America's top 25 Newspapers that increased circulation in the last year. It's the same one that's warning readers this morning they'll have to pay up if they want to continue perusing its content on the iPhone (the last free place to find it).

This morning, iPhone users who click the WSJ application are being greeted with a message telling them they'll have to pay come January to continue reading. Unfortunately, I can't get the message back for a direct quote, but that's the gist of it.

Rupert Murdoch doesn't care much for net etiquette. When everyone said the future was free, he was the first to wrap up the Wall Street Journal behind a pay wall. Turns out that helped increase circulation at the worst moment in history for print newspapers. It's like watching Superman walk across the plain of Iwo Jima as guns mow down a surrounding sea of soldiers.

At the Summit at Stanford this year, Jason Pontin said that the pay wall at Technology Review didn't hurt traffic their either. He mentioned that only very specific types of editorial can be charge for: "It has to genuinely have a unique mission. It has to be smart, and kind of boring in the sense that it helps the customer make purchasing decisions."  

When Michael Arrington of the totally free publication TechCrunch objected that it seemed "like trying to sell something available on BitTorrent," Pontin countered that such content is targeted for a small audience that really wants it, so infringement isn't that much of a threat. That doesn't hold true for the widely read WSJ--one might expect the pay wall to be violated all over the place. On the other hand, I almost never see a WSJ article illegally reproduced online, despite the pro-piracy ethos of Silicon Valley. Maybe the pirates are afraid of Murdoch, who still doesn't show much regard for net ettiquette.

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