Burn the Village Strategy: WSJ Subscription Firewall – What It Really Means

Emily Steel just wrote a blog post about Rupert Murdocks comments that WSJ will retain the ‘paid subscription firewall’ for the Wall Street Journal Online.   

After I gave WSJ Digital Network kudos for their Davos World Economic Forum coverage at the Davos Daily, I see Emily’s report???  What’s the deal??   Expand blog network and keep the firewall?  It’s called ‘burn the village’ strategy and invest in a differentiated product.

Emily writes:  “Speculation that News Corp. would make WSJ.com a completely free site had been rife in recent months, since Mr. Murdoch had signaled he was contemplating lifting the subscription wall. Mr. Murdoch had indicated that lifting the pay wall could broaden the Journal’s online audience and boost its Web advertising revenue, offsetting any loss in subscription revenues.

Mr. Murdoch made his comments today at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in answer to a question.

“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.”

It’s a “burn the village” strategy for WSJ.  They can provide rapid blogging coverage to commoditize the blogosphere then create a separate product that is highly differentiated and charge for it. 

This plays directly into WSJ’s hands since they invest the most in the talent.  Same is true for the NY  Times, but they have actually integrated blogging into their online site which has no subscription firewall.   Interesting strategies by both companies.  Many have said that newspapers should create blog networks.  

There was a great post and debate about data being a commodity on bubblegenration and publishing 2.o last month. 

Is blogging and free content a commodity?  Lets have some pork bellies with those blog posts.  Meanwhile look for big media companies to “Burn the Villages”.   

Why?  Commoditize the blogosphere then roll them all up.


Best Davos Coverage – Wall Street Journal

The Wall Street Journal has the best Davos coverage coming out of the World Economic Forum.  They have a blog called Daily Davos.  This part of the WSJ Digital Network where they are blogging professionally. 

This is how the WSJ Digital Network describes their coverage at Davos in the Davos Daily:  The Daily Davos provides updates from the World Economic Forum’s annual talkfest in Davos, Switzerland, which draws more than 2,000 business, political and academic leaders for a five-day program of workshops and panel discussions. A team of reporters and editors from The Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones Newswires is on the scene, and will be posting news, commentary and gossip as the conference unfolds.

Folks what we are seeing here is professional blogging.  Great job by the WSJ bloggers.  I’d like to know who the people are that are behind the blogging for WSJ.  For example I know that Eric Savitz is Barron’s Tech Trader Daily.  Linking to a person behind the blogging is easier then some generic face like Davos Daily – there are two brands the blog site and the blogger(s).  I like AllThingsD, but its Kara Swisher who I like to read.   

WSJ Digital Network is a collection of blogs.  Will they partner with other networks.  PodTech currently works with Dow Jones and they should form a strategic partnership with WSJ Digital.