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Set Journalism Free: How to Bypass a Paywall


We are living in strange times. There’s countless information available on the Internet. But only some of it is verified news and has reputable sources. Many of the websites that check facts and follow journalistic ethics have their content behind a paywall. They need money to keep their sites running, of course. After all, servers aren’t free. But what does this mean for the truth and free information on the Internet? 

This creates an interesting situation where people can only access confirmed facts if they’re willing to pay. It also means people may be likely to opt for free, but not quite factual, “news.” To keep some information free here, are a few tips for circumventing those pesky paywalls. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t support your favorite sites but it also gives you an option if vital information is blocked. Read responsibly. 

The Ethical Dilemma 

It’s a tough debate. Of course, it takes money for journalists to be able to follow leads, write thought-out content, and thoroughly research their stories. It takes money for news sources to keep their sites up and manage circulation. But if all of their content is hidden behind a paywall, it creates a scenario where content, namely news, requires people to pay to know the truth. 

If people can’t readily access verified content they’ll just opt for less verified news sources. Whether to save money or because of not being able to afford it, this creates a wider circulation of not-quite news. In an age where everyone’s calling out “fake news” on all political sides, it doesn’t help to have random sites purporting themselves as news sources. This can be for circulation, ad revenue, or even to spread malware. 

The flip side of the argument is how can you get a readership and keep a site up without revenue? There is no right side to this debate. If the press was subsidized by the government this might create a conflict of interest. If it was a free market content economy that means money can also twist facts and shift the “truth.” So hopefully these quick tips can give you options so you can seek out information.

Here are a few tips to help you circumvent a paywall. 

Clear Your Cookies 

The paywall tracks how many articles you’ve read. This process can sometimes be managed by a cookie. By clearing your cookies and cache you can, for some websites, appear as a new user. This can refresh your free article count and let you read the article. 

Incognito Mode 

This small hack is pretty simple. If you open a new Incognito window or open a tab in privacy mode on your browser this can help you read an article without a paywall. Paste the link to the article and see if you can read the article. Privacy mode can often help you read an article without having to sign in or pay.

Put it in Your Pocket

Read-it-later apps like Pocket can often circumvent paywalls. When you store an article on your Pocket to read later you’ll be able to scroll through and read it through Pocket without having to deal with paywalls and signing up for new accounts. 

Turn Off Javascript 

One workaround is to use Developer Tools to turn off Javascript which can disable what tracks your article views. Open the article in Google Chrome. Then click on Inspect. This will give you access to the Developer tools. You’ll see an icon shaped like a sprocket or a gear. Click on it. From this menu, make sure you’re on the Preferences tab, then scroll down to Debugger, then click Disable Javascript and reload the page. That should allow you to read the article without a paywall. 

See if It’s Syndicated 

Your article of interest may appear on another website or RSS feed and this might give you a chance to still read the information without having to rely on subscribing to the news source. If you Google the article title you may find that it’s been syndicated on another website. This may just give you access to a segment of the article you need or let you fully read it before subscribing. 

Transform it Into a PDF

The site Web page to PDF will convert web pages into PDFs. Surprising, right? But this conversion process can happen before the paywall and give you access to all of the information you need. 

To Bypass or Not Bypass the Paywall?

We all need to get our news from somewhere. Not every article should require us to subscribe to an entire service. But if we want to support websites that fact check sources, report balanced news, and encourage free information we may need to bite the bullet in some cases and support the press. We also should be able to get some facts without having to be upsold or pay for them. Hopefully, these quick tips help you get access to the information you need while saving a few bucks that you can use to support press and news sources that you truly value.

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