OLD Media Moves

WSJ.com redesign herculean, but shows schism between readers

September 17, 2008

Chadwick Matlin of The Big Money critiques the newly redesigned Wall Street Journal Web site, and while noting its accomplishments, wonders why there’s so much difference between the pay portion and what’s available to non-subscribers.

WSJ.comMatlin writes, “In The Big Money’s tests, the Digg workaround was still working, but you can no longer get to walled content via Google News. This has huge implications for the Journal’s traffic numbers (which have risen 84 percent this year, according to WSJ) and its ad revenue. TBM asked a PR rep whether the WSJ was backing off its relationship with Google News, and she said it was not. When TBM showed her a link that led to preview-only content, she said it might be a tech anomaly, and the Journal is checking in with Google. This story will be updated if further details are sent along.

“The aesthetics are also different for the haves and have-nots. The color scheme for nonsubscribers is filled with more black. The mix of stories on the home page is drastically different, with more lifestyle coverage offered to nonsubscribers. As of this writing, the subscriber home page’s lead story is a full package on the Fed’s inaction today. For nonsubscribers, the Fed story still leads but is supplemented with pieces on Pakistan, China, and domestic politics.

“In The Big Money’s brief time spent with the site, not many subscriber-only articles were advertised to nonsubscribers on the home page. It seems strange considering Murdoch believes the Journal’s deeply sourced financial content to be the paper’s selling point online. It suggests the paper has eased efforts to convince non-WSJ subscribers to join the club.”

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