Doing Backflips for the WSJ

I point to WSJ stories fairly regularly, but I am apparently in the minority according to Adam Penenberg’s excellent Wired story. Granted, I go through some contortions to knock down the walls around the garden: I am a WSJ subscriber and I use the “email this” link to send myself a bloggable story link that is (temporarily) readable by anyone.

So why doesn’t the WSJ matter? Because most people rightly won’t do the backflips that I do to make WSJ stories readable. And since people won’t do that, the WSJ is not as much part of the conversation as it used to be.

That is the argument, anyway. I’m not sure I buy it, as most WSJ readers are not bloggers nor are they part of the blogosphere, so keeping them out of the conversation is really neither here nor there. But then again, there is something to be said for the echo chamber online, and choosing not to participate has consequences.

The danger for the WSJ? Current readers support the paper, but the next generation of traders/bankers/analysts and others grow up relying on other sources — and they dump the WSJ. Will it happen? Five years ago in a pre-RSS world I would have said no way, but now I’m not so sure. (And releasing a few summary-less WSJ RSS feeds is no solution.)


  1. They’re toast, and so is the NYTimes. They’re still clinging to their old model, simply projected on to the web. “Daily editions”, “subscription fees”, “closed” articles (no comments from the unwashed masses unless we vet them in letters to the editor)…and last but not least, they are still clinging to the idea that I want them to print all of this on to cheap dirty paper and leave it at the end of my driveway.
    The new rules: no print edition unless the user owns a laserjet. No closed articles – comments are open to everyone. In fact the line between writer and commenter is blurred or does not exist. Facts are replaced by commentary (for better or for worse), since facts are easily obtainable (wikipedia), very few people are interested in reiterating them. No deadlines/editions/blah – the time to write is when stuff happens. Oh also you can get rid of 90% of the people employed in these industries.
    Think Slashdot. Or your own blog. Its odd how you trumpet the past while you yourself are delivering the future.

  2. Kevin H. Stecyk says:

    In your prior post titled “How Being Free Profits the Times” (Jan 7/2005), you appeared to argue that publications such as FT and WSJ have “timeliness in their favor” and as such have a viable business model. I tend to agree that those sources (FT, WSJ, Bloomberg etc.,) that provide timely and valuable information will always command an audience.

  3. “I tend to agree that those sources (FT, WSJ, Bloomberg etc.,) that provide timely and valuable information will always command an audience.”
    But what kind of information? Releasing facts or commentary? Fact transmission is no longer a profitable business on its own. Commentary has been decentralized. When it comes to financial writing, there is an avalanche of commentary you can read for free. Most of it from investment letters looking to pull in new customers (hence it is of fairly high quality).