[Here's a test: If you don't have a subscription to WSJ.com and you can click this link and end up there, then, well, the WSJ.com is free. See the "update" below for the secret to this trick.]
First, you gotta love the headline from this article at Editor & Publisher, “WSJ Executive: Murdoch’s Free Web Site Talk is ‘Jumping The Gun’” that follows-up the news reports earlier today that Rupert Murdoch told shareholders that WSJ.com will drop its current subscription model.
The article has some, well, interesting quotes:
“A top business-side executive at Dow Jones & Co. said it is premature to assume that The Wall Street Journal Web site will definitely drop its paid subscription model, despite comments by Rupert Murdoch that the change is expected. “It is jumping the gun, people are jumping to conclusions here very quickly. We haven’t even closed the deal yet,” said Michael Rooney, senior vice president and chief revenue officer for the company’s consumer media group. “Mr. Murdoch would like to have the largest, most robust site in business. Free is a way to look at that. But there is a lot of detail behind that. You have to work that out. You don’t just flip the switch.”
Mr. Rooney, who, no doubt, is a wonderful individual, nonetheless, sounds like a Presidential press secretary trying to explain what the President meant to say. However, Rupert Murdoch said what he said. Clearly, he didn’t say “everything that is paid for today is going to be free” and he didn’t say, “We’re going to flip the switch on this as soon as the deal closes.” But according to the AP, he did say this: “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.”
My speculation (based purely on reading and listening to news reports of what Rupert Murdoch and WSJ executives have said over the past 90 days) is this: Almost all of what we today know as the news, features and opinion content of the Wall Street Journal and the “general business news” of WSJ.com, will come out from behind the pay wall. However, access to certain real-time financial data, corporate research, background and other business mission-critical and industry-vertical information and data will continue to be available via subscription — in some cases, a very expensive subscription.
Update: Well, geez, louise. According to Kevin Rose (the Mr. Bigg of Digg), starting tonight, anyone can make a particular story “free” on WSJ.com by merely clicking a Digg button. Of course, that means that someone with a subscription, say, someone like me, would have to click that button first.
Here’s what Remote Digg, WSJ.com style, looks like: