During the New York Times’ (NYSE: NYT) TimesSelect phase, people liked to point to the Wall Street Journal’s OpinionJournal.com as an example of how editorial pages should be accessible for free. But OpinionJournal.com, which launched in 2000, never made all of the content from the editorial pages free and, in fact, had a WSJ.com companion for subscribers only; conversely, the WSJ.com subs didn’t see some of the free site’s content. That changed today — the first major shift of the Murdoch-News Corp (NYSE: NWS). era. Now, all of the editorial content is collected and accessible for free. Users of either url — wsj.com/opinion or OpinionJournal.com — will wind up at the same site. The content includes every editorial, daily columnists and video clips from the weekly WSJ TV show on Fox plus original video. From the new site: “Please enjoy our message of free people and free markets — for free.” Or, put another way in the Journal item announcing the change: “It’s as close as we’ll get to conceding there is such a thing as a free lunch.”
This is probably the easiest section to take free and one of the likeliest to go viral and draw more traffic, particularly during an election cycle, so makes sense. It’s also no secret that the WSJ editorial department is usually a good fit with Rupert Murdoch’s political philosophy so this could be viewed as a chance to spread the word.
— The “free lunch” does still acknowledge the value of subscriptions: The Political Diary section links to an OpinionJournal page pitching subscriptions at $3.95 a month to Political Diary featuring John Fund, an email newsletter with commentary and analysis on American politics