Friday, November 1, 2013

How to read The Wall Street Journal without paying more than $300 per year (and an NY Times cheat, too)

When I was a journalism major at Lehigh University in the 1960s, one of the "J" department's two professors pointed out that The Wall Street Journal is a superb newspaper -- even for people who don't care about finance or investing.

I no longer remember if the tip came from Prof. "Mac" McFadden or Prof. "Sully" Sullivan, but I do remember that I immediately started reading the paper every day, along with my mandatory New York Times and other doses of serious and frivolous media.

  • TIME OUT: At a big-city newsstand, if you want to be perceived as a wealthy sophisticate, just state "Journal," not "The Wall Street Journal" or "Wall Street." 
Despite the recent purchase of the Pulitzer-winning Journal by evil Rupert Murdoch, and editorials that I seldom agree with, I've continued to read the paper daily. There were eras when I read it for free in libraries, or bought it on newsstands, or had it delivered. More recently, I've read the paper online, typically before 4 a.m. 

My first subscription probably cost me about $29 for a year. That price was an easily justifiable and certainly deductible business expense, as well as a reasonable extravagance for a media junkie like me. Over the years the price has increased to the present painful $323.88.

I am no longer as wealthy as I once was and can neither afford nor justify paying the huge subscription fee. Fortunately, some of the online Journal is easily readable without paying a penny. Some content is available only to subscribers. I have not been able to discern how the Murdoch media mavens decide which articles are freebies.

I recently devised a simple workaround (a/k/a "hack" or "kludge") that enables me to read almost all of the protected information for free. Because it was easy to figure this out, I have to assume that the Murdoch clan really doesn't care if the WSJ is readable for free, but simply wants freeloading to be a bit less convenient than reading for nearly a dollar a day online (or $2 on the newsstand). Even freeloaders are exposed to advertisements, and ads make money for media.

Here's how to freeload:

  1. As you go through the paper, you'll encounter links for stories with and without key icons. Stories without keys are free for all.
  2. If you click on a link with a key icon, you'll be taken to a page with the title of the story and the opportunity to log-in with your subscription info, or buy a subscription at a bargain rate for a brief period (a very good deal, actually).
  3. If you want to freeload, you have to be creative, but not very creative. Go to a search engine screen and type in some key words from the story plus "WSJ."
  4. BINGO! you should then see one or more links that will take you to a freebie page.
  5. Read, learn, savor.
(left-click to enlarge image)

ALSO: You can follow Twitter links to free WSJ content.

Also, Also: The same Google and Twitter techniques work for the New York Times and probably other media with pay walls.

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