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The Wall Street Journal changes its paywall

The Wall Street Journal’s proposition has, for many years, been clear: Pay for our journalism, including online.

Many do: The Journal recently hit 948,000 digital-only subscribers, according to owner News Corp, and it’s nudging its way toward the internal goal of 3 million subscribers across all of parent publisher Dow Jones’ properties by 2017.

But as a business-focused publication, the Journal has an affluent readership, and subscriptions are expensive, even with introductory offers or summer sales. With most of its stories under lock and key, casual readers have limited opportunity to try out Journal content, especially when paywall changes that catch the attention of these non-subscribing readers are tests to further tighten up access.

Now the Journal is trying to make its paywall softer. It’s testing 24-hour guest passes for non-subscribers, an offer that pops up when readers access a story shared by a subscriber or a Journal staffer. (If you don’t enter your email address, you just get to read the one story.) Down the line, the Journal may also be testing other time increments for the guest passes.

It’s also opening up opportunities for subscribers and members, as well as Journal staffers themselves, to share full articles for free through social media.

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