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WSJ.com pings the news

The Wall Street Journal's Web site sends stock quotes and snippets of its news stories to AOL Instant Messenger users who sign up for the service.

The online leg of The Wall Street Journal on Thursday began offering stock quotes and snippets of its news stories to users of AOL Instant Messenger, in an attempt to attract new subscribers to its site.

Whenever AIM users want to access the service, they can send an instant message to WSJOnline. The Journal then sends instructions, via IM, for navigating a menu that will provide updated stock quotes and summaries of news articles. In their IM windows, the AIM users can view online sections of the publication such as top U.S. news stories or search for headlines by ticker or by company name.

Full versions of the articles are available only to those who subscribe to the Web site.

Representatives of Dow Jones, which publishes the newspaper and its online content, said site readers have expressed an interested in getting news via instant messages.

"The explosion of instant messaging in the (workplace), combined with the instantaneous nature of the medium, makes IM a natural platform for delivery of The Wall Street Journal's news," Todd Larsen, president of Dow Jones Consumer Electronic Publishing, said in a statement.

The company said it hopes that the move will lure new subscribers to its paid site.

Instant messaging users have already been able to get stock quotes and other information via bots tailored for the medium. Jupiter Research analyst Michael Gartenberg said the move by another major publishers into that area is an indication of two trends: that more and more people are using instant messaging, and that people are keeping their IM windows up constantly.

Instant messaging has proliferated as a popular communications medium in the workplace, flying under the radar at most organizations as employees use consumer versions of the product. The major IM companies have tried to harness the popularity of their consumer versions of their products in the workplace by offering corporate versions that let system administrators set controls.

It's too soon to tell whether offering WSJ.com news through IM will entice people to subscribe, or whether people will want to see news via IM when they can get the same information through a Web browser or an e-mail update.

Gartenberg said people are looking at different ways of getting news, particularly as traditional methods such as e-mail become unwieldy.

"When your in-box is clogged with 300 messages offering Viagra, or ways to enlarge certain body parts or pleas from some Nigerian who wants to share his wealth with you, you're going to look for alternate sources," said Gartenberg.

What's more, he said IM could eventually allow sites to instantaneously update users with news as it breaks.

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