I get that the newspaper and entire print industry is going through a rough time with advertisers dropping left and right and their subscriber base dwindling, but I’m still not sold on the idea of charging for access to news stories online as the way to save the news industry. Nevertheless, the New York Times made the decision to begin charging for access to their online news stories and features, and that went into effect on Monday afternoon. You’ll still be able to read up to 20 articles per month for free if you come to the NY Times’ website via a search engine such as Google, but if you dial up the site directly you won’t have that option. My motto has always been, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way”, and in this case, if you’re willing to do some finagling, you can still read much of the NY Times’ content online for free. If you’re lazy and have the extra cash to justify a subscription, then by all means, get a subscription. But if you’re like me, a casual reader of the NY Times who probably reads more than their 20 articles a month but not enough to justify paying $35 every four weeks, then you’ll want to check out some of these work-arounds that will help you achieve your goal of reading the NY Times for free online:
The NY Times loves social media and makes good use of it, having more than 250 Twitter accounts that covers just about every section and blog and every writer. If you haven’t signed up for Twitter yet, now’s probably a good time to do so. Clicking through their Twitter feed links will take you to the full article, without harassing you to pay. But it’s not just the NY Times’ official feeds that will let you click through for full access to an article — any link shared on the site will put you through. The same trick will also work on Facebook. The NY Times does not want to stop people from sharing a big or interesting story with their friends and acquaintances by putting up a paywall, so for now this is an easy way to get around it.
Another way to beat the system involves utilizing the NYTClean bookmarklet. Sure, it will require an extra click for every article, but you’ll accomplish your ultimate goal of reading the New York Times’ for free online. To get started, point your browser to this page on the Euri.ca Blog and then click and hold on the NYTClean link located in the middle of the page and drag it to your bookmarks toolbar. Anytime you hit a page on the NY Times’ website asking you to cough up some cash to continue reading, simply hit the NYTClean bookmark in your toolbar. Magically, it works and you’re redirected to a free version of the article.
If the bookmarklet process described above sounds too complicated or time-consuming (it’s not really), or you’d rather just automate the process of getting to the free version of a NY Times article every time you hit a stop page asking you to subscribe, a user script is just what the doctor ordered. Install the NY Times Paywall user script from UserScripts.org. Firefox users will first need to install Greasemonkey, and then click “Install” on the script pages. Chrome users just need to click “Install”, while Safari users can set up Greasekit to manage user scripts. For Internet Explorer the Trixie add-on should help you manage user scripts.
Chrome users have another option for automating their free access to New York Times’ online content. Introducing the New York Times Paywall Smasher browser extension.
The NY Times checks your IP address to see how often you’re visiting their site and reading their articles. So, you could use different computers in different locations to read their articles, but that’s probably quite a hassle. Instead of physically relocating yourself, simply re-route your web queries using a proxy. There are a number of free proxy websites online, such as HideMyAss.com, which mask your actual IP and make it appear as though you are accessing a site from elsewhere.
This method still limits you somewhat, but you’ll get a lot more free content than you would if you simply went directly to the New York Times’ website.
If you’ve stumbled on any other ways to bypass the New York Times’ limits on free access, please share in the comments.
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