reporting the won’t be subscription-free, but wait….

There seems to be a slight dis-connect between what Rupert Murdoch has said about the future of the subscription model of and what is currently reporting. Under the subject line, “Murdoch: Won’t Go Free,” Emily Steel blogs from Davos (it’s also a story behind the pay wall) the following quote from Murdoch: “‘We are going to greatly expand and improve the free part of the Wall Street Journal online, but there will still be a strong offering’ for subscribers, Mr. Murdoch said. ‘The really special things will still be a subscription service, and, sorry to tell you, probably more expensive.'”

So, wait. Did he say, “The Won’t Go Free”?

When I’ve blogged on this topic in the past, I have tried to be clear that it was (and is) my belief that the strategy Murdoch is telegraphing today — a blended one — would be the strategy they’d ultimately choose. I stated this precisely last August 4, when I wrote: “I predict we’ll see the doors flinging open on a major portion of the content soon. However, on certain sub-sets of highly-technical, business-critical data on the site, the cost of access will increase. In the end, the new owners will make lots more money.”

In other words, I predicted what Murdoch said today. They will greatly increase the free part of and charge more for business-critical, technical data. I’ll predict this today: the “greatly expanded and improved free part” of will look a lot like a free to most people who just read the news stories.

Related rexblog flashback: How to get an RSS feed with tons of ‘free’ stories on

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  • Rex

    I think you’re hedging!

    I think the “new free parts” will be an article or two more, and maybe some new blogs. The majority of the content will stay behind the pay wall. Wanna bet? I already won once!

  • Rex Hammock

    (To: Rex S.) First, I would have never bet against you on that wager you had with Jim. However, I’m not hedging: I believe the majority of the “news coverage” content and feature stories will come outside the paywall. Heck, a click on that Digg button at the bottom of the page frees any article already. So I’ll take your bet — although I don’t know exactly what it is — I believe the “free parts” will be more than simply one or two more “free articles.” I believe the “subscribers” will get access to Factiva or some other currently “premium” service. And I think, since this is a Rex vs. Rex bet, the wager should be a bottle of this.

  • Rex

    A bottle of Rex Goliath it is!

    So the bet is this: when Murdoch rolls out the new model, will there be a significant change in the amount of daily story content (i.e., the stories that appear in the paper) released outside the pay wall? (You: yes. Me: no.)