Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Wall Street Journal to become free online

Rupert Murdoch is about to remove price barriers to the online edition of the Wall Street Journal.  See coverage, for example, here, here, and here.  His idea is to make more money from advertising than he now makes from subscriptions.  The online WSJ now has about one million subscribers paying $99/year.

Note that the New York Times took this step in September 2007, and for the same reason.  In the same month, Murdoch began hinting that he would do the same for the WSJ. 

Also remember that Elsevier is doing very much the same thing with OncologySTAT.


  • As I've said before, the newspaper models may affect scholarly journals indirectly, for example, by reinforcing user expectations for OA and confirming the many studies showing that free online access increases impact.
  • But could the newspaper models also get OA journals to think more seriously about advertising, and advertisers to think more seriously about OA journals?  Insofar as advertising rates depend on circulation, OA publications should be able to charge more than TA publications --perhaps enough more to support the conversion from TA to OA.  Or if the rates are about the same, then advertisers should prefer to advertise in OA publications, and advertisers who never quite thought about why are now being educated by the NYT and WSJ.  Granted that scholarly journals in most fields have much less attraction for advertisers than newspapers, they also have much lower expenses.  How does this net out?  For example, if many (not all) OA journals would like to generate more revenue from advertising, how far is that interest reciprocated by advertisers who would like to reach more eyeballs by advertising in OA journals?  Will advertiser interest in OA journals increase as the logic of the NYT and WSJ strategies sinks in?
  • See my February 2006 article on Google AdSense ads (and the growing number of equivalents) as as a supplementary source of revenue for OA journals raising none of the usual problems of real or perceived editorial corruption.