What Murdoch seems to be trying to do is to find a way to de-commodify his news offerings, what with his talk of paywalls and extracting search-index payments. But it’s unclear if the two strategies could mesh. Why would Microsoft pay to index news that only subscribers can see? That would only work if News pursued a WSJ-style hybrid strategy where search clicks get one article free but navigating the site requires a subscription, but some at News, including Murdoch, have said it doesn’t like that model.

Basically, this is hardly a silver bullet for the news.

Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at rc2538@columbia.edu.