FT.com operates a tiered access model: free registration for access to 10 articles over 30 days; a standard paid-for subscription and a more expensive premium package. Money Supply became part of this model last week - a move that was always planned for the blog since its launch last year and that has been held up by necessary technical work, Robert Shrimsley, managing editor of FT.com, told Journalism.co.uk.
Shrimsley said he expects more FT.com blogs to move behind the subscription wall by the end of the year, with specialist, analysis and news-led blogs the most likely candidates. Last year the editor of one of FT.com's most successful blogs, Alphaville, told Journalism.co.uk that it would stay free and help drive new readers to the FT by linking to and being referenced by other websites.
"We've got clear evidence that people are prepared to pay for what they consider valuable content. You've got other news organisations like the New York Times essentially copying our business model so clearly people believe this is working. So as long as you provide a valuable content and value for money, the evidence is that people are prepared to pay," said Shrimsley.
"It's absolutely our intention that other FT blogs will [go behind the subscription wall]. I can't give you a list today, but it's absolutely our intention. Some will and some won't. I think those that are pure comment, some of our columnists who carry on their writing in a blog format as well, I don't think you could say that was material you could charge for because it's really straight comment and opinion. The blogs that I think provided added value, we certainly expect others to come. Not all, but certainly others, I would be very surprised if there aren't others in the pay structure by the end of the year."
According to figures released last month, FT.com has more than two million registered users and 126,281 digital subscribers. But commenters on the Money Supply blog have criticised the decision suggesting taking blogs behind a paywall will force print subscribers to pay twice for access. A print and digital subscription is available, but at a cost of £1 more a week than the weekly print subscription.
"Money Supply was never going to be a big mainstream blog - it's far too wonky for that - but it's written by smart people, and it has very good content, and it had a real chance of becoming part of the broader online conversation. But there’s now essentially zero chance that its audience will grow substantially from its present low level," writes Reuters' blogger Felix Salmon on the FT's decision.
But Shrimsley maintained that the plan to move Money Supply had been in place since launch. The blog is currently the site's fourth most popular and while it expects to lose readers as a result of the shift, its typically FT content will retain a paying audience, while the blog format will offer a different approach to its subject, he said.
"It's absolutely core content, our best economics writers writing about what is going to happen in central bank and fiscal policy, stuff that moves markets. This is stuff that our readers really want to know; they want to glean every morsel of information and insight. This is so core to what we do that we absolutely shouldn't be giving it away," he said.
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