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As newspapers struggle to turn a profit in the digital economy, the Wall Street Journal has had one small advantage in the battle for monetization: people don't mind subscribing for their content. But The Journal isn't expecting that to be a sulver bullet long term strategy.

Like every other print publication, they are looking beyond ad dollars and subscription fees to make money. And their newest attempt is a business focused social network.

In 2007, there were rumors that News Corp. was trying to buy resume building social network LinkedIn and now it looks like the company is looking to go it alone.

According to TechCrunch:

"They’ve been working on a new social network, to be called WSJ Connect, we’ve confirmed. And instead of building it internally, like they did with WSJ Community, they’ve enlisted the help of another arm of parent company News Corp. - Slingshot Labs. And yes, they call it 'LinkedIn Killer' internally."

The WSJ.com currently has only a third of LinkedIn's audience of 15 million daily visitors. But one of the Wall Street Journal's most prized assets is its influential (and affluent) audience of readers. Those 4.7 million visitors are on the whole a wealthy and coveted segment of the population.

The paper's current social network WSJ Community hasn't taken off, which is probably little surprise. It has a total of 40,000 members. That's especially paltry compared to LinkedIn's 43 million member base.

The site's tagline is "Discuss Groups. Answers. Connections." But Wall Street Journal readers don't go to the paper's website to share. They are attractive to advertisers because they are out being busy and making (and spending) money. They read the paper because of its pertinent financial information. Do they want to socialize with other readers online? Probably not.

However, if News Corp. can build a site they want to use for professional reasons, that could be a different story.

If The Journal actually goes through with this (TechCrunch says that WSJ Connect is still in the planning/conceptual stages) and gets its readers to use the service, it could be another way that the Wall Street Journal bucks the trend of newspapers bleeding money online.

The trick will be in convincing high paid executives and business people that their product will help them make business decisions (and making them use it).

Image: WSJ Community

Meghan Keane

Published 31 July, 2009 by Meghan Keane

Based in New York, Meghan Keane is US Editor of Econsultancy. You can follow her on Twitter: @keanesian.

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