In a move that must be causing Excedrin headaches at the New York Times and other Old Media outlets, USA Today reports that the Wall Street Journal's new owner expects to tear down its subscription wall:
News Corp. (NWS) Chairman Rupert Murdoch said Tuesday he intends to make access to The Wall Street Journal's website free, trading subscription fees for anticipated ad revenue.
"We are studying it and we expect to make that free, and instead of having 1 million (subscribers), having at least 10 million-15 million in every corner of the earth," Murdoch said.
News Corp. has signed an agreement to acquire Dow Jones (DJ), and the deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter. A special shareholders meeting is scheduled for Dec. 13 in New York.
Murdoch said he believes that a free model, with increased readership for wsj.com, will attract "large numbers" of big-spending advertisers.
The website, one of the few news sites globally to successfully introduce a subscription model, currently has around 1 million subscribers, which generates about $50 million in user fees.
The move should greatly improve the overall fairness and balance of online news, analysis, and discussion. Though the Journal's editorialists have their blind spots, particularly their open-borders immigration outlook and their disrespect for New Media, not a week goes by where I don't see a behind-the-firewall editorial that I wish were available to all.
Many of the economic policy arguments made in the Journal historically have not, and still do not, get a fair airing in what's left of the "Newspapers of Record." Now the economic thought driving the unprecedented prosperity that began in the early 1980s and has, with only the most minor of blips, not let up since will be out there for general consumption.
This is incredibly good news if Rupert Murdoch carries through with his intentions. Specious economic arguments are on their way to becoming endangered species.
Bring it on, Rupert.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.