Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Wall Street Journal to try a microcharge system

The Financial Times and Wired report that the Wall Street Journal will soon modify its online subscription model by charging customers only for what they read, with credit card “micro payments”, rather like those collected from a Kinkos kiosk.

The story (in Wired’s “Epicenter”) is here.

Right now, the WSJ online is one of the few newspapers that charge for content, even though some of that content is available free on some wireless devices. Many newspapers have charged for stories (about $4.95 or so per story) once they gets archived (after two to four weeks), but in recent years many newspapers have stopped intercepting archived stories to bill customers. Some papers only charge for more specialized stories.

Some newspaper sites run AP, UPI or Reuters stories but have to remove them after two weeks because of permissions agreements. Many AP stories do not remain available indefinitely. A micro-charge for older stories would, to me, sound like a good idea for news services like AP.

Micro charges could mean that some stories linked even from these blogs will bring up a panel to pay a microcharge, if the story is archived, or after seeing an abstract. Papers are likely to offer bundled deals of volume discounts and subscriptions as usual again.

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