Much of The Wall Street Journal's online content is subscription only, but the dogged could find ways around that, notably via its free mobile applications.
The Journal has moved to close that loophole, flipping the switch today on a plan to make many articles on its BlackBerry and iPhone applications available only to subscribers. The switch affects articles that fall in the paper's core business and financial coverage, leaving free stories from lifestyle, sports, politics and other categories.
A WSJ mobile subscription costs $2 per week. Journal print and online subscribers must pay $1 per week. Users of the WSJ's mobile site do not need an extra subscription.
The WSJ Mobile Reader apps remain free of charge. Like WSJ.com, the mobile apps will carry a roughly 50-50 subscriber to free ratio. A tech glitch on Monday put all new content on some older versions of the app behind a subscriber wall. Upgrading to the new version of the app fixes that, according to a WSJ spokesperson.
WSJ owner News Corp. has emerged as the most vocal proponent for the beleaguered news industry to start charging users. Company officials have said they are looking at ways to start charging users at its other news properties. News Corp.'s deputy chairman last week advocated Hulu, which is partially owned by News Corp., of adding subscription services.
The Journal has attempted to straddle the line of the free versus paid debate by keeping its core content behind a pay wall yet opening access to it in other ways. For instance, users arriving at the site via Google News can access articles for free. The WSJ rep said the company had no plans to change that.