Thursday, March 31, 2011

How to Get Around the NYTimes Paywall...

Earlier this week, the New York Times launched a new paywall to try and raise some additional revenue. The basics of the plan are as follows... if you subscribe to any home delivery package of the printed newspaper then the digital subscription is free. Otherwise, each person can only view 20 articles per month unless they pony up between $15 to $35 per month, depending on how many different digital devices they own.

How The Times believes that this will increase revenue is beyond me. Paywalls at other newspaper and magazine websites have demonstrated, time and time again, that any additional revenue gains are completely offset by the reduction in people actually visiting the website and reading articles.

After all, why would somebody pay $35/month when they can read rival newspapers online for free? I know it's the New York Times - the journalistic gold standard - but are YOU willing to shell out that kind of money for access considering how many free alternatives are available on the Web? For most of you, probably not. And a smaller readership translates into less advertising revenue, which happens to be the bulk of their online income stream.

Not to fret. Gizmodo just updated a fantastic list of loopholes and ways to get around the paywall so that you can read infinite NYTimes articles to your heart's content.
  1. Google - If there's ever an NYT article you're blocked from, you can just copy and paste the headline into Google for free and easy access. Even if you hit your unspecified daily limit on Google, you can then head on over to Bing or Yahoo.

  2. Twitter - There are already hundreds of Twitter accounts providing direct links to NYT content. Pick and choose your favorites, or for the full firehose of every single NYT article just follow @freeUnnamedNews.

  3. Chrome extension - If you use Chrome as your web browser, download the "New York Times Paywall Smasher" to automate the process.

  4. Greasemonkey for Firefox - Install this userscript to automate the process if you use the Firefox web browser.

  5. "NYTClean" bookmarklet - Just drag it to your bookmarklet bar, and click it every time asks you to become a subscriber. You'll be redirected to a free version of the page with no fuss.

Paywalls remain one of the dumbest business strategies for media companies to pursue. It has never worked successfully thus far, and there's no reason to think it will this time around either. If there's any newspaper worth paying to read it's the New York Times, yet one nevertheless has to remain skeptical until proven otherwise. More than anything, the paywall comes across like an act of corporate desperation.


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