The New York Times will flip the switch on its digital paywall next Monday, and the Grey Lady don't come cheap: $US15/month for the website and the phone app, $US20/month for the website and the iPad app, or a wallet-singeing $US35 for web, phone and iPad. But there are loopholes! And they are generous. Here's your game plan.
Read For Free
As much as a paywall might get your hackles up, the folks running the Times understand that no amount of digital subscription revenue would make up for the sting of a page view exodus. That's why - in addition to 20 free articles a month, which is pretty generous for your average casual reader - they built in this little clause:
• Readers who come to Times articles through links from search, blogs and social media like Facebook and Twitter will be able to read those articles, even if they have reached their monthly reading limit. For some search engines, users will have a daily limit of free links to Times articles.
That's similar to the model that's been employed by the Wall Street Journal and Financial Times, and means that if there's ever an NYT article you're blocked from? You can just copy and paste the headline into Google for free and easy access. Even if you hit your unspecified daily limit on Google, you can head on over to Bing or, if you're feeling 2002 about it, Alta Vista.
If that's too labour intensive (all that clicking!), then it's time to make Twitter your new best friend. Between individual journos, print sections and blogs, there are a whopping 252 Twitter accounts associated with the NYT - none of them shy about pushing out their content. Pick and choose your favourites, or for the full firehose of every single NYT article just follow @freenyt.
Read For Cheap
If you're dead set on getting yourself a digital subscription, that's fine. Getting around the firewall is doable, but not seamless, and you may rather just avoid the hassle. Remember, though, that only suckers pay retail.
The trick here is that any home delivery package includes a full digital subscription. And - conveniently enough - a Monday-Friday home delivery costs you just $US3.70/week for the first 84 days, or $US14.80/month. That's less than the cheapest digital plan, and gives you unlimited web, phone and iPad access. And when the full price kicks in, iPad and phone users are still saving a significant amount, and anyone else can just cancel home delivery switch back to pure digital.
Don't need the dead tree version? I bet you know someone who does. Just sign up your parents or your technophobic neighbour for home delivery as a gift - after they've promised to sign away their digital rights, of course.
And remember that these loopholes are actually in place to help the Times. More home delivery subscribers, higher social media attach rates, more app downloads; these are all things that advertisers drool over. And it's their money - not yours - that keeps newspapers afloat.