Will Traders Ever Get News From Websites?

When was the last time you saw a trader using a web browser? I ask because

there seems to

be some worry that if WSJ.com goes free, that might mean fewer people subscribing

to Dow Jones Newswires. I also believe that a reason FT.com hasn’t gone free

is that the FT sells its own content to people using Reuters or Bloomberg screens,

for the same price as a web subscription, and they fear that if the website

is free then no one will pay for the same content on a screen.

I don’t buy it. It’s true that the web is now a much more sophisticated news

delivery mechanism than it used to be, and is in many ways superior to the old

clunky techology driving screen-based systems. But there’s no real way for a

website to "push" content yet (despite that famous

Wired cover story now being over 10 years old), and in any case I just don’t

think that financial professionals really use the web as a news source very

much. That will change, slowly, in the years to come. But for the time being,

I don’t think that Dow Jones Newswires has much to fear from WSJ.com going free.

On the other hand, the people buying content for the screens aren’t always

the same as the people using it. And the buyers might well balk at paying good

money for content which is available free online. Still, I think that worry

is marginal. After all, there’s no shortage of companies

which exist solely to aggregate online information and repackage it in a screen-friendly


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