Tag: Wall Street Journal

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The News I Choose

Strange isn’t it, the quotes that cling to you. In August 2009, the New York Times rightly asked: “What’s a Big City Without a Newspaper?“—when many reputable reporting organizations contemplated erecting paywalls after too long bleeding advertising revenues to the Google Free Economy. Journalist Michael Sokolove interviewed Brian Tierney, who then led a group trying to salvage two major dailies following bankruptcy: “He wants to begin charging for online content. As he told me this, he banged a bagel on a conference table, which sounded like a rock as it hit. ‘You hear that?’ This bagel stinks, he said. ‘It’s got the same consistency inside and out, but if you went down to our cafeteria, it costs like $1.25. That’s what people pay for stuff like this, so you mean to tell me I can’t get them to pay that for online access to all the incredible stuff in The Inquirer and Daily News online? People who say that all this content wants to be free aren’t paying talented people to create it'”.

Perhaps because I am a working journalist, or maybe being someone who seeks news that he can trust, the sources most valuable to me aren’t free. I pay for them—and in putting together a list, much more than expected. But before continuing, qualification: I started to draft this post in September 2015, coming back many times with intention to complete—only to perennially procrastinate. Perhaps I subconsciously intuited that my main news sources would dramatically change, as they have following Donald Trump’s unexpected presidential election victory. 

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Outrageous! Digital Wall Street Journal Costs 708% More Today Than Did My First Subscription!

As a journalist, I appreciate the importance of paying for quality journalism—but my budget only can absorb so many paywall subscriptions. I am disappointed to, once again, abandon the digital Wall Street Journal. Cost is too high. I resubscribed this year for a 6-month, election special promotional rate of $87—and received great value. The Journal became my newspaper of record during the brutal, belabored, blood-sucking Presidential campaign.

My sub would have auto-renewed on December 9th. But for how much? Nowhere (that I can find) does the account page disclose this vital information. So yesterday afternoon, I called customer service and received a shock that required the guy to repeat the renewal amount four times. Surely I misunderstood him: $98.97 for three months. That’s $395.88 per year! I pleaded for a deal and got one that isn’t low enough: $130.44 for six months. The WSJ rep compared the monthly costs for the incredible savings: $21.74, rather than $32.99 monthly. But as I told him, the meaningful comparison is to my other paid papers (digitally). 

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‘Really, Rupert?’ is the Right Question

Today, Rachel Whetstone, Google’s senior vice president of communications and policy, asks what has been on my mind since a stunning scoop set the Wall Street Journal against the Federal Trade Commission and the search and information giant. As I explained in an analysis of the news reporting, the story is flush with insinuation and veiled accusation, bereft of context.

Among my more serious concerns: Journal-parent News Corp’s ongoing tug-a-war with Google’s business model and its impact on paid content. Both entities likely would benefit by any means that trustbusters could crimp Google. The scoop’s timing and tone look like they intend to influence European Union public policy. Rachel’s response is brilliant, because it gets to the point: Conflict of interest taints the Journal’s credibility and impartiality. She rightly observes: “We understand you have a new found love of the regulatory process, especially in Europe”. 

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Google, FTC, and Advocacy Journalism That Stinks Like Landfill

Mac apologist Daniel Eran Dilger posted one of his lopsided-advocacy stories around 8:30 p.m. PDT last night; I saw the ridiculous headline, “Google News buries news of Google’s FTC investigation under Daniel Lyons fluff”, about two hours later, when scanning my RSS feeds. The story within is even worse. Don’t bother rewarding the author with pageviews. Notice I don’t link to the story. (Since we have two Daniels here and out of friendliness I use first names, I choose for this story to refer to Mr. Dilger as DED.)

Here’s the quick recap: DED refers to a Daniel Lyons opinion that ran in an ongoing Washington Post series. I happened to see it last night: “Five myths about Google“. I could have picked better myths, but these aren’t bad. The Post story is dateline March 20, 2015. The previous night, the Wall Street Journal blew out a big scoop regarding the Federal Trade Commission antitrust investigation into Google that closed in January 2013, finding no case. The Journal asserts cause championed by staff but ignored by Commissioners.  Blech! The WSJ report is suspicious as all bloody hell, as I explain in March 19 analysis: “What is Behind the Journal’s Big Google-FTC Scoop?” 

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What is Behind the Journal’s Big Google-FTC Scoop?

Technology industry news scoops rarely offer as much intrigue as Wall Street Journal story “Inside the U.S. Antitrust Probe of Google“. According to reporters Brent Kendall, Brody Mullins, and Rolfe Winkler, the newspaper obtained a years-old Federal Trade Commission staff document, “after the agency inadvertently disclosed it as part of a Freedom of Information Act request”.

Seriously? Is that accidentally, or accidentally on purpose? Applying the question every journalist should ask about anything—Who benefits?—raises reasonable suspicion the release was deliberate. I say that because FTC staff recommended filing antitrust charges against Google, while Commissioners cleared the search and information in a unanimous vote, according to the Journal. The answer to the “Who benefits?” question likely lies in circumstances obvious and not: Intrigue in and around the agency, including staff dissatisfied with the outcome; timing with respect to Google; and competitor lobbying, manipulation, or interference. 

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What's Behind the 'Wall Street Journal' Paywall?

The other day, I investigated current Wall Street Journal subscription pricing, as part of broader research about paywalls. The Journal still charges more than I want to pay but I am relieved to find one price for online, smartphone, and tablet.

People consume information contextually, so paid content should be available wherever they want to get it. What follows is my chat with a Journal sales rep, with full pricing.

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Paywalls are killing my Budget

I just cancelled the Sunday New York Times and took digital-only (browser and smartphone) for $15 a month, discounted by half for 12 weeks. My most recent home delivery bill was $33 and some change. For Sundays! A promotion cutting the price in half for 6 months expired in April. I’m not eligible for another deal, and I don’t get $7-plus a week value from Sundays and all-access digital.

I’ve subscribed to the Times since 2001.

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Wall Street Journal's Pay-more Paywall demands Too Much

Do you pay Rupert Murdoch 18 bucks a month for a Wall Street Journal iPad subscription? I dare you to confess. Today, during News Corporation’s earnings call, CEO Murdoch claims that the Journal has 64,000 active users on iPad. Presumably one of them is you.

I ask because I see the Journal as having gone too far with its paywall approach. I’m testing iPhone 3GS again, and I downloaded the WSJ app last week. I logged in with my web subscription account, and the Journal let me read for a couple days. Then came the demand for more cash. Not much, just a buck a week. But I already pay for the web subscription, for which the Journal charges about $150 a year. So Murdoch wants another 52 bucks a year for iPhone and about another $215 for iPad, which I also am testing? OK, it’s only $207 a year for iPad if taking advantage of the $3.99-a-week promotion.

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Can You Charge for News? Ask Google

The pundits opining about Rupert Murdoch’s plans to charge for his media conglomerate’s online content miss the forest for the trees. The majority spout conjecture about whether or not people would pay and in that context whether or not anyone should charge, considering the abundance of alternative online informational sources. What everyone should ask: Can you put content behind a paywall, even just require registration, and fully participate in the Google economy?

Can we be honest, here? If your business is content and selling online advertising around it, you must pay homage to the great Google algorithm. As was with previous age’s deities, the minions must make sacrifices before the great Google god. To receive its blessings, they must do Google’s bidding—quite literally on keywords—and give away all their worldly possessions (e.g., content, for free). But can they give to Lord Google and keep something for themselves, too?