If you are a reader of the New York Times, you probably have heard about the new “paywall” to force their online readers into subscribing to either their home delivery or their digital subscription. This is a two-sided sword – trying to limit free access to the NY Times’ content without interfering with Google’s ability to index their latest articles. There lies the loophole. In an open letter from Publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr., he states:
Readers who come to Times articles through links from search engines, blogs and social media will be able to read those articles, even if they have reached their monthly reading limit. This allows new and casual readers to continue to discover our content on the open Web. On all major search engines, users will have a daily limit on free links to Times articles.
Basically, if you are directed to the NY Times from a Google link, you can get around the paywall limitations of 20 articles per month. By using the Advanced Search in Google News, you can customize the search to deliver exactly what you want to read.
1. Customize the Advanced Search to fit you reading interests.
Google News is a great resource which gathers news from many sources, including the NY Times. The Google News homepage can be customized by cookies to deliver info relevant to you. Start by clicking the Advanced News Search. All of the above fields highlighted in yellow can be used to target articles. Since the NY Times is so well organized, all major sections are identified in the URL. This makes it even easier for Google to find. For example, I love to read the “Media & Advertising” Section. All articles in this section have “media” in the URL.
2. Once you create the appropriate search, you can Follow it automatically.
The magic is in the search terms. allinurl: media identifies the section in the URL and source:new_york_times identifies the content provider. After running the search, you can click the Follow button to automatically add this search to your Google News homepage.
3. Get ready to use Private Browsing!
Of course, with any loophole, the New York Times will try to close it. Even so, there is only so far they can go using the standard web tools (combo of server session, cookies and dynamic IPs) without interfering with Google’s ability deliver content. They could require everyone to create an account to access any articles, but that would be a significant roadblock and their site traffic would significantly drop. So would forcing readers to install a special “plugin” monitor. Right now, annoy readers into subscribing seems to be their goal. (Actually annoy readers into subscribing to their home delivery IS their goal. See the article below.) But, if you use a browser like Mozilla Firefox which has built-in Private Browsing, your cookies, history and other internet files (which can be used to track you) will be automatically deleted.
The whole “charging for formerly free content” is a gamble. The New York Times has debated charging for its online content since 2005, but never implemented its plans for fear of loosing online readers (and maintain their site banner rates). Will the regular NY Times readers stop reading their content online and turn to one of the countless free news sources on the web? Considering I already received the following 50% off digital subscription offer (the day after the paywall took effect), they seem pretty concerned.