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Dear WSJ: You did this to yourself, people.

How could they *not* see this coming????

WSJ Ends Google Users' Free Ride, Then Fades in Search Results
by Gerry Smith
June 5, 2017, 1:34 PM EDT

After blocking Google users from reading free articles in February, the Wall Street Journal’s subscription business soared, with a fourfold increase in the rate of visitors converting into paying customers. But there was a trade-off: Traffic from Google plummeted 44 percent.

The reason: Google search results are based on an algorithm that scans the internet for free content. After the Journal’s free articles went behind a paywall, Google’s bot only saw the first few paragraphs and started ranking them lower, limiting the Journal’s viewership.

Executives at the Journal, owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., argue that Google’s policy is unfairly punishing them for trying to attract more digital subscribers. They want Google to treat their articles equally in search rankings, despite being behind a paywall.

“Any site like ours automatically doesn’t get the visibility in search that a free site would,” Suzi Watford, the Journal’s chief marketing officer, said in an interview. “You are definitely being discriminated against as a paid news site.”

The Journal’s experience could have implications across the news industry, where publishers are relying more on convincing readers to pay for their articles because tech giants like Google and Facebook are vacuuming up the lion’s share of online advertising.

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  • @rforno & MFO Members: Never underestimate the Linkster. Below are several articles from the WSJ "Journal Report Mutual Funds & ETFs" section that appears once a week in the Journal. In addition Barron's articles are once again available through Google article title search.
  • edited June 2017
    I have a lot of sympathy for the news publishing business. A real struggle to survive while maintaining the level of talent we've come to expect. Reporters don't work for free. On the other hand, I don't understand their rate structure very well. Some of the prices look high - especially for online content which must cost pennies to deliver compared to paper copies. I hope the great publications with decent staffs can survive. If not we're left with a void that fake news will be all too happy to fill.

    If you want just a "taste" of the WSJ, Amazon's Audible is available for $15 every other month (works out to $7.50 monthly) and among other great features provides daily access to a 20-minute reading of 5-10 of the Journal's day's stories. Sure doesn't compare to having the full paper but a nice perk for Audible subscribers.

    A recent WSJ piece detailing the year's drop in international tourists visiting the U.S. and the impact on the tourism industry (hotels, casinos, restaurants, airlines) was alarming.
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