Would You Like Lettuce with Your Journal?

Speaking to the American Society of Newspaper Editors in Washington, Ruppert Murdoch faulted the industry for having been "remarkably, accountably complacent" about new technologies, including the Internet. In Frank Barnako's Internet Daily Report in MarketWatch, Murdoch is quoted as saying, "I suspect many of you in this room were quietly hoping this thing called the digital revolution would just limp along. Well it hasn't, and it won't." (The question that I have to ask is when did Mr. Murdoch see the light? Last week, last year or last millennium?) His suggestion is that newspapers should experiment with putting bloggers' comments and reporting on newspapers' Web sites to supplement their news coverage.

On Saturday, I saw a different approach being taken by the Wall Street Journal. When I checked out of my local supermarket, the cash register receipt contained a coupon saying "get four weeks of The Wall Street Journal free!" This is the same Wall Street Journal that not all that long ago had the largest subscriber base and readership in the country. Now when non-subscribers purchase a quart of non-fat peach frozen yogurt, they can get 20 free issues.

It will be interesting to see which of these two approaches generates more readers. In fairness, WSJ Online is the most successful subscription-based electronic newspaper site. But I haven't seen a coupon for the WSJ Online at my grocery store.

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