The Wall Street Journal gets greedy

As the newspaper's quality degrades, Murdoch plans to charge more for "premium" content.

Published April 13, 2010 12:01AM (EDT)

I can't remember exactly when I first signed up for the Wall Street Journal's online edition, but it wasn't too long after its inception in 1995. It's possible I've been a subscriber for 15 years, which isn't an easy thing to achieve with an Internet-delivered periodical.

But today, I visited the Wall Street Journal's home page, and saw, scattered all about, the word "PRO" followed by a link to additional content the Journal's editors suspected might  be of interest. For example, immediately after the news story, "Senate Probe: WaMu Ignored Warnings," there's a related story link titled PRO: Bank Regulators Under Fire.

Now it just so happens that I am the kind of guy who actually might be interested in a story with such a headline, so I clicked through to see what the "Professional" version of the Wall Street Journal might offer me, for an additional $25 dollars a month. But I didn't see much more than a mishmash of search results from a query of the Dow Jones Factiva database, along with a few articles chosen by WSJ editors from other sources, such as American Banker and the Albuquerque Journal.

I already pay $197 a year for my online subscription to the Journal. In an era where there are so many demands on my online attention, I feel like that is a pretty penny. Heck, the New Yorker will sell me a subscription to their print magazine for $29. I find myself deeply annoyed at this attempt to extract even more of my income. Is it wrong for me to expect that when I log on to the Journal, a service for which I am a paying customer, that I will enjoy the opportunity to read everything linked to from that page, without forking over an additional $300 dollars?

Perhaps I am not in the proper demographic for this service, but I have to agree with TheDeal's Matthew Wurtzel, who tweeted that "I feel like WSJ Pro is the content we used to get before Murdoch turned WSJ into a conservative NYT."

Yes. The Wall Street Journal now offers me a degraded product, full of topical stories on politics and culture the likes of which I can find in numerous places, and yet expects me to more than double what I am currently paying to get the kind of content I originally signed up for. I'm not sure that's the way the new Internet economy really works.

By Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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How The World Works Media Criticism Rupert Murdoch Wall Street