WITH FIVE DAYS TO GO, YOU CAN FIND A WHOLE LOT OF “HOW TO” ARTICLES ON GETTING AROUND THE TIMES’ PAYWALL
My last blog addressed why I don’t think even the most passionate of news lovers will want to pay for the NY Times online. Now, it turns out, no one really has to. And just today, The Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., admitted he created his paywall to be “purposely porous,” saying he thinks “It’ll be mostly high school kids and people out of work,” before adding “I can’t believe I said that.”
“Can people go around the system?” Sulzberger asked during an appearance at The Paley Center for Media. “The answer is yes. There are going to be ways. Just as if you run down Sixth Avenue right now and you pass a newsstand and grab the paper and keep running you can actually get the Times free,” he said.
“We have to accept that, ” Sultzberger went on to say, explaining he doesn’t believe it’s going to be easy to do.
“Is it going to be done by the kind of people who buy the quality news and opinion of the New York Times? We don’t think so,” he said.
Perhaps Mr. Sultzberger doesn’t know his readers very well. Or perhaps he’s too old fashioned to know what’s going on online. I’d like to think I rank among “the kind of people who buy the quality news and opinion of the New York Times.” But everywhere I’ve looked today, I’ve learned how to jump the wall in quite a few different and imaginative ways. I’ve read one can “launder” The Times through Google. That’s when you cut and paste the NY Times headline into the Google search window and circumvent the wall.
You can delete the flash cookies from your computer as soon as you approach the article limit. There’s a @FreeNYTimes Twitter feed of all articles, something Forbes is reporting The Times has asked Twitter to take down. There is also @FreeNYT on Twitter and, I imagine, lots more to come.
Gizmo reports there are 252 NYT-related twitter accounts, with links, to follow for free. @NYTbooks has almost 200,000 followers.
There are 21 links to the opinion section alone, the section Sulzberger thinks will attract those upmarket readers who are willing to pay online for articles like, “The Right To Sue Over Wiretapping,” the editorial that appeared in print today on page 26. I read it online yesterday, through twitter’s @nytimesopinon which linked to http://nyti.ms/gWzQWv.
PCWorld.com also reports today on David Hayes, a programmer in Waterloo, Ontario, who came up with a simple bookmarklet to tear down the Times’ paywall. “Called @NYTClean this bookmarklet uses just a few lines of code to get past the newspaper’s subscription requirement.”
Then, of course, there’s Facebook, which doesn’t block links and will allow 700 million users to swap as many NY Times articles as they please. So, please, Wharton and Harvard business schools, explain how or why one would ever design a business paywall to be “porous?”
The Times doesn’t seem to get the online revolution at all; those of us who have been online are simply more nimble than those constructing the fantasy paywalls understand. We’re not high school kids — I don’t believe they read The Times at all. And we’re not necessarily unemployed. We are those who have for years browsed online, and reposted articles we think our friends and loved ones will enjoy.
Perhaps it’s the arrogance of the New York Times executives, or just their naivete that, I predict, will invite a slew of online readers –even bucketloads of new ones who may just want to prove how easy it will be to jump the “porous” paywall… especially if their publisher continues to make elitist remarks regarding who will pay and who will circumvent it.