Matt Busse: How you can still read the Wall Street Journal for free

Something for those media executives considering building pay walls around their content, Matt Busse details how to read the WSJ for free using Google.

“Oh, and this isn’t new. It’s been an open secret since at least March 2008,” adds Busse.

Full post at this link…

3 thoughts on “Matt Busse: How you can still read the Wall Street Journal for free

  1. Angus Batey

    I’m confused by this posting and the Busse page. Busse seems to be trying to point out how stupid Murdoch is when his paywall is so easy to get around, and this link to it seems to be couched as a warning to media entities that if they’re going to go to the expense and trouble of building such walls they should try harder to make them work. Yet all it actually does is point out that the part of Murdoch’s shtick that’s caused so many new media pundits to label him barmy is actually sort of true: here’s how you can use Google to actaully lower the earning power of the WSJ, and ergo, here’s why you need to remove your websites from Google’s search results if you are intent on making money from distributing your work onlinbe. We can argue forever and a day about paywall vs free, but if you’re a media proprietor who has come down on the side of paywalls, this simply proves that removing your site from Google is a necessary part of your business plan, doesn’t it? Or am I missing something?



  2. Matt Busse

    Hello AB! Matt Busse here.

    Just to clarify: I wasn’t trying to make a grand statement about paywalls or to insult Mr. Murdoch at all.

    At the risk of sounding overly simplistic, I was only pointing out that there is, in fact, a hole in the paywall that lets you read WSJ (one of my favorite newspapers, by the way) without paying. It was really more of a “Did you know you could do this?” sort of post.

    The paywall must be deliberately set up to allow referrals from Google to read for free; I don’t believe the technique I describe is the sort of thing you can get away with unless the Web site administrators allow it. If News Corp. wanted to close the hole tomorrow I believe they certainly could.

    You pose a great question at the end of you comment: how do you allow people to find your content on search engines but still make them pay to read it? I imagine there are foolproof ways, but WSJ’s current setup is not one of them.

  3. Angus Batey

    Thanks for the clarification, Matt; apologies for inferring the wrong tone.

    I think the final point you raise gets to the heart of the issue. I suppose News Corp have essentially given up on search as a means of drawing readers to their output. That would certainly fit the mould of a company built in its founder’s image, with Murdoch being something of a newspaper fundamentalist. He probably feels – and will have some justification, even with today’s deteriorating sales figures – that the titles will bring readers to them by virtue of their reputations and histories. He still thinks of newspapers as objects with pages that you turn, and that serendipitous discovery means having a story catch your eye while you’re skipping ahead to the TV guide. By today’s conventional wisdom that looks like lunacy, but it’s not wilful wrong-headedness. News Corp have already taken what must have been a difficult decision to close their one UK title that was entirely free because its losses were unsustainable. Put in that context, where the extra eyeballs a lack of cover price brought in didn’t turn into profit, closing down access to their websites from search engines seems like a logical next step. The WSJ is a strong enough brand to withstand that, I’m sure: I expect the fate of the other papers will reveal plenty about where this industry is headed.



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