It’s not enough that their pages are literally cluttered with ads: The Wall Street Journal also wants users to pay before giving them access to what they consider “premium” content.
But when it comes to news there is no such thing as premium content – whatever WSJ publishes as “premium” already has free responses everywhere else. I guess what I am trying to say is: paid content is fine, as long as it has some real value. Charging subscribers for content that loses impact and influence within ours is probably not the best approach to doing business online.
For example, WSJ’s “EU Plans Fresh Strike on Microsoft” is a piece of information that describes how the European Union may “force” other browsers into Windows to dilute Microsoft’s advantage in the field. WSJ doesn’t name its sources in this article, but if WSJ said it, we shall buy it. However, this is hardly the point! If the information is true, the EU is wasting its time: no Internet savvy self respecting user is on IE! There are other browsers of choice, like Firefox, Opera and Safari we already use, but whenever we need something from Microsoft – like templates for Word for example – these are not downloadable unless we use IE. Forcing any browser into Windows will not stop Microsoft from making its services compatible only with IE (which is a smart marketing move, whether we like it or not).
Back to WSJ. Is it fair to make subscribers pay for news from unconfirmed sources, and, more importantly, is it fair to make them pay for an article that lacks opinion? Is it fair to make anyone pay for coverage presented far more professional by, let’s say Computerworld: EU’s antitrust case against Microsoft could mean endless ‘crapware’ on PCs or Microsoft antitrust case sparks lobby group turf war.
The answer is a loud “No.” Fair is to pay for information you cannot find anywhere else. Fair is to pay for in-depth analysis on sites that are not supported by ads. Fair is to pay for expert opinion and not for an article supported by Constant Contact and others.