Why did I decide we would charge online? Because I listened to [my] executives, the case they made, and the revenue involved and the success of it.
We've had all along about a million people pay for the Wall Street Journal online, WSJ.com. Some also buy the paper and use [the website] to keep up to date throughout the day on breaking news, on markets and so forth. We're going to keep that and extend it to The Times in London and any other papers we have.
And we're going to stop people like Google, or Microsoft or whoever, from taking our stories for nothing. We can do that, by using the law of copyright – and they recognise it. If you call them up on it, you hardly need to write a letter.
As far as WSJ.com is concerned, they don't touch that, though they'll be stopping that very shortly. By that I mean that, if you go to Google News and you see stories where it says Wall Street Journal and you click on it, you suddenly get the page or the story as in the WSJ and it's for free. And they take it for nothing; it's free.
They've got this very clever business model and they've invented almost a new type of advertising, search advertising. And if they just pour out tens of millions of words a day, one way or another, they have key words in there, which are tied to advertising beside it; just textual advertising. And it's produced a river of gold. But those words are being taken from, mostly, the newspapers. And I think they ought to stop it. The newspapers ought to stand up, and let them do their own reporting or whatever. We'll be very happy if they just publish our headline, and a sentence or two, followed by a subscription form, of course. And that will bring you so-called traffic to your sight. Then you tell advertisers how much traffic you have – though it's a little fictional.
I do think when readers have got nowhere else to go they'll start paying, so long as it's reasonable and not a lot of money. We're now selling an electric edition of the whole WSJ.com for $3.99 a week, which is a lot less than on the news stand. There's no paper involved, no print, no trucks.
As far as I'm concerned, I like what we've done in the past. I'm old. I like the tactile experience of a paper.
This is an edited transcript from the chairman of News International's interview with Marvin Kalb, at the National Press Club, on Tuesday night
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