For years his Wall Street Journal has charged an online subscription fee (to be fair, he bought WSJ after it had been charging for several years). But he served notice that his major newspapers would soon be doing so.
Today his Sunday Times of London formally announced what had been rumoured for months: a separate, redesigned site available only to subscribers for two pounds a week.
In writing about the move, the Times (which will create another paywalled site for its Monday-Saturday papers) argues that good journalism requires good financial backing. Giving the content away will not generate sufficient advertising support to pay for the kind of work that the Times believes is necessary to do its job.
"We believe many readers will be prepared to pay this relatively small amount because they value our journalism and they understand that nothing of value is free," it writes today.
It also believes others will follow and that the only free purveyors will be of inferior quality or public models like the BBC --- even they are starting to understand the impact of Internet investment and scaling back their foray into publishing, the Times suggests.
It is, as the newspaper notes, a significant gamble in a revolutionary age. It comes as a range of new e-readers are hitting the market (Apple's iPad at the end of the week) and publishers are setting their prices for subscription-based models in those formats.
WSJ, for instance, will be roughly 18 dollars through iPad, almost double its cost of delivery to the door, so presumably the online version comes with additional functions.
The Times believes its loyal customers will understand why it needs to do this. Study after study has indicated a small but loyal cohort exists t who would pay for access to the content.
But there are many serious questions lingering around paywalls, among them:
1. Are organizations capable of producing content sufficiently original to capture direct subscription financing?
2. Are paywalls technologically enforceable in an age of robust search engines and an aggressive culture of cut-and-paste bloggers of content?
3. Are there "good enough" freely available alternatives to the paywalled journalism?
4. Are paywalls actually going to hinder the development of a sustainable business model online by suppressing audience size and opportunities to attract new users?
5. Are organizations too late in reversing a decade-plus-old culture of free (once you've paid for your computer and Internet connection) access to content?
Not surprisingly, the Times is inundated with negative comments on its site about the initiative.
The New York Times will be the next major organization to try a metered system of access next year. But it would be surprising if many other major organizations, frustrated at the slow-developing digital business model for content, don't watch what happens very carefully in the weeks ahead and try to mirror any success that might develop.