Look out, media cheapskates — the New York Times is losing patience with your skinflint ways. After imposing a metered paywall last year to restrict how many articles non-subscribers can read for free, the Times is clamping down on popular tricks to get around the wall.
The latest casualty is NYClean, a bookmarklet that lets readers zap away “over the limit” messages that appears in front of Times stories. I discovered the change on Monday when, after having reached my monthly quota of 10 free stories, I tried and failed to use NYClean to read another story. The tool (see the arrow) zapped the message for a second but then the message came right back:
This is the second time in as many months that the Times has shut down a trick to evade its meter; in February, readers discovered they could no longer access a blocked story by chopping off the end of the article’s website address. Times spokeswoman Eileen Murphy explained the situation this way:
“As we have said from the time we launched our digital subscription model, we are aware of various loopholes to access our content beyond the allotted number of articles each month. It remains a priority for us to protect the value of our content so we will continue to make adjustments to optimize the gateway through technical security solutions.”
The new restrictions come at a time of increased acceptance of metered paywalls. In recent months, popular blogger (and paidContent Live guest) Andrew Sullivan introduced a meter — now at $1.99 a month — while longtime paywall holdout the Washington Post said it will launch one this summer.
The Times’ get-tough measures create dilemmas for readers like me who are running out of workarounds. I like the New York Times but, since I already pay hundreds of dollars a year for a Wall Street Journal subscription, I am not in a position to shell out full fare for a second paper. Perhaps the Times will introduce a grazing option (say 50 articles for $5) or introduce paywall partnerships across publications.