Wall Street Journal legal correspondent, Ashby Jones (@jonesashby), announced last week that the WSJ’s “Law Blog” launched in 2006 and after 20,000 posts was shutting its doors effective immediately.
— Ashby Jones (@jonesashby) July 3, 2017
Law Blog’s closure doesn’t signal much when it comes to law firm law blogs. If anything, it suggests law blogs are stronger today.
No question, the WSJ’s jumping on the law blog bandwagon back in 2006 added credibility to the legal blogosphere. Jones is right,
It had a simple name but a novel approach to legal news in the pre-Twitter era: a one-stop place for breaking news, quick and clear analysis and lively takes on the most compelling stories, trends and personalities shaping the profession.
Law Blog was the first of its kind at the WSJ and was an immediate hit, attracting readers from all corners of the legal world. Its success helped usher in a sort of Golden Age for blogs at WSJ and encourage the growth of a wider, legal blogosphere.
Some in the legal community saw the news of shuttering Law Blog as a sign that law blogs were dying. Like we haven’t read the death of blogs headline any number of times over the years.
Looking at what WSJ is doing though is a sign that just the opposite is true. It demonstrates the strength, not the weakness of legal blogging.
WSJ which makes its money by selling subscriptions to content behind paywalls, is moving all legal content penned by Ashby Jones and other legal reporters on the Law Blog onto the main Journal site — and available only if you pay.
Robert Ambrogi (@bobmbrogi), a veteran journalist who headed a couple legal newspapers and now, blogger, responded, elsewhere on Facebook, to the theory that shuttering Law Blog was a sign law blogs were on the decline.
This isn’t about blogs. It’s about a news organization trying to funnel its readership towards specific products. The problem for the WSJ was that these blogs were diverting readers from the main content pages. If anything, that suggests the strength of the blogs, not the weakness of blogging.
A business development head in large law was right with Ambrogi that we’re comparing apples and oranges. The WSJ was restricting access to subscription-only content, while law firms don’t directly derive revenue from their legal blogs.
Lest there be any doubt, the 20k+ blog posts that Ashby Jones said would continue to be available at their original URL’s are already behind a paywall. Even Jones’ post that Law Blog is behind the paywall.