Yesterday I reblogged a Reuters post that reports that The New York Times will limit free articles to 10 per month. After the repost I linked to a short video we created a while ago about getting around the paywall. To make sixty seconds short, it shows that you just need to delete everything after the “?” mark in the URL and reload the page to access any article you want.
Here’s some criticism for doing so:
- Via Morgan Little from the LA Times: Seems a bit off for @the_FJP to be advocating paywall workarounds…
- Via OnTheChangGang: Don’t be a jerk, if you really want to support journalism and journalists pay to gain access to their hard work and efforts. C’mon use your mind grapes where do people think the money for salaries and investigative stories come from?
- Via SammyStokes: or you know, you could pay for a subscription so the world’s most important newspaper doesn’t go under.
I should say that the criticism is more or less valid. I should also say that my language (“FJP: Paywall got you down? Here’s our 60 second tutorial on getting around it.”) doesn’t help.
Here’s what I should have written if I was thinking at the time:
- The New York Times has about 450,000 digital subscribers. Good for them. I set my parents up with both digital and print editions.
- The New York Times has about 30 million unique visitors a month. Thirty million, if you do your math, is much larger than 450,000, impressive as that number may be.
- This simple hack of removing everything after the “?” mark in order to access articles tells us that the New York Times is still focussed on the 99% of traffic that isn’t subscribing, and is trying to figure out how to monetize nytimes.com to make sure that those non-subscribing uniques can still access, share, and distribute content so that they can grow that number.
- This leak is basically a punt on monetizing the 99% aside from the (considerable) revenue they’re pulling in from advertising and other related businesses.
And so, with that as my backstory to posting a link to a video about how easy it is to get around the NYT paywall, I wrote shorthand about how to do so.
Sometimes when you’re in the weeds you forget the forest for the trees but my link to circumventing the paywall is part of a larger and longer discussion that’s been going on at the FJP about paywalls and how they might work.
The New York Times is very much aware of how leaky their paywall is. It is very much aware that deleting a string from a URL gives anyone access to their content. This is a both a design and business decision that I can’t imagine they’re very much worried about. Otherwise, they’d close this gap.
So, in the meantime, I’ll post again — with the caveat that if you can afford a subscription, purchase a subscription — if you want to view a New York Times article but have bumped up against your monthly allotment, follow the instructions posted here.
If the New York Times wants to shut down this access they can do so quickly and easily. Until then, have at it — Michael
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