If I want to continue doing that after October 24, though, Iâ€™ll need to be a paying subscriber to the Wall Street Journal in some way, either to the print newspaper or the website, or both.
Iâ€™m currently not any kind of paying subscriber, so it would be easy just to say, Ok, Dow Jones, start charging for access to your mobile content and Iâ€™m gone.
As it happens, thatâ€™s what I did say to myself (and on Twitter). Is it really as black-and-white as that?
I think the fact that you can access the Journalâ€™s content totally for free at the moment via an app on a mobile device is a luxury weâ€™ve been lucky to enjoy. The iPhone app is ad supported (as I imagine the Blackberry app is as well), a business model I thought a good one. It complements the Journalâ€™s pay model on the web: you want access to WSJ.com, you pay an annual subscription that gives you access to the whole website. Want it on your mobile device? Itâ€™s free but you have to see ads â€“ the cost is your attention rather than your money.
Others thought that model was good, too.
But clearly the pressures to show a revenue stream from all content, however itâ€™s consumed, are too great and so Dow Jones says it will charge for access. That’s what other media companies are saying, too: Sky News, for instance, which launched its iPhone app in May, says itâ€™s going to charge people outside the UK and Ireland for access to content.
I use these apps as well as others, notably the Financial Timesâ€™ iPhone app, launched in July, that has a very clear pay model. Certainly clearer to me than the Journalâ€™s plan which will cost you either $1 or $2 a week or even access for free depending on what sort of subscriber you are.
Hereâ€™s where the apparent black-and-white picture shifts to one of greyscale as I see it.
Rather than simply charge you a blanket fee that gives you access to all the content via a mobile site on the web or an app on a mobile device, I think a better model is one that charges on a pay-per-use basis. Thatâ€™s how I see a micropayment system.
To me, that would mean being able to access content occasionally from places that Iâ€™m not willing to subscribe to otherwise, but from which I would be willing to purchase access to specific content from time to time.
Surely a micropayment idea is a better proposition than no income at all from someone like me who might have elected not to subscribe and, thus, not see any content. And even better if the content Iâ€™d purchase access to from time to time is something Iâ€™d regard as especially compelling â€“ a favourite columnist, for instance, or some analysis I canâ€™t get anywhere else â€“ or if how I access it and what I can do when connected are unique in some way or give me an enhanced experience.
Maybe thatâ€™s what Dow Jones is getting at with this description in their press release:
[â€¦] In addition to the new subscription offering, several new features will be added to the WSJ Mobile Reader, including advanced save and share functions, enhanced market data, stock tracking and personalization capabilities.
In fact, why not offer all methods to consume content? Subscription and micropayment? In an environment where news is a commodity â€“ who on earth will pay for news when you can find it everywhere online, and for free? â€“ surely demonstrating how you can offer some kind of unique value to the user that connects you both in a meaningful way is the real way to develop a feasible revenue stream.
Like everyone else, the mainstream media is trying to figure out which path to take in a world thatâ€™s constantly shifting.