WSJ to Shore Up Paywall

Publishers often want it both ways when it comes to subscriptions. They want the extra revenue source from paywalls, but they want the traffic that comes from social media and search referrals.

The Wall Street Journal is working to plug one nifty way around its subscription requirement. The News Corp. property is working with Google to pull an app made for the Google Chrome browser. The “Read WSJ” app gives people an easy way around WSJ’s paywall by taking advantage of the WSJ, allowing visitors arriving via Google News access to its articles. Through the app, users can click on a headline of a story behind the paywall where they are then redirected to a search on Google News for the exact headline. There thay can click on the headline and finally see the story. It all takes only a couple seconds.

That should end soon, according to WSJ rep Ashley Huston, who called the app a “blatant exploitation” of the Journal’s sampling program, which lets users get five articles per month free via Google. The app isn’t widely used, with Google showing less than 4,000 users.

The Journal might go farther, however. Huston said it is mulling cutting back on the number of free stories through Google News from its current five per day.

The WSJ isn’t alone. There are several ways around The New York Times digital subscription plan. One of the easiest ways is a browser application called “NYClean” that eradicates the subscribers-only message that pops up over articles. The Times tolerates the application for now.

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