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.