To be clear: I have no problem with anyone – anyone at all – making money. I also having nothing against anyone saving money, either. And I suspect, nobody has any problem with the fact that the creative friction between the two is what makes our great nation of Amurica the great nation that its great at being. Isn’t that great?

So with that said, is finding a way around the D&C’s paywall unethical? Well, let me put it to you this way: have you ever gone through the line at a store with your significant and two identical coupons? And those coupons say, “one coupon per customer, per visit?”

If you decided to use two different lines and get double the discount, then you’ve already become well-aquainted with the idea of game systems. And Gannett News has clearly decided that your consumption of their product is a game. A game where you get as far as your knowledge takes you. And somewhat perversely for an organization ostensibly charged with informing the public, it is a game where what you don’t know could cost you either money or information.

Every good game needs cheat codes. So here you go:

Everything you need to know about getting around the Gannett paywall:

  • The paywall counts the number of articles you have viewed. More than 20, you’ll have to pay.
  • Unlike the New York Times paywall, the Gannett paywall ALSO counts articles you’ve viewed through social media links towards your 20 free.
  • Blogs on the D&C DO NOT count towards your 20 free.
  • Clicking articles multiple times. This is very odd:
    • Clicking the same article multiple times DOES count towards your 20 free. What the hell?
    • Once you’ve reached your 20 free, clicking the same article multiple times DOES NOT trigger the paywall block. You can still view any previously-viewed articles….
    • So, clicking the same article 20 times will screw you, but as long as you really, really like that article – which, presumably, you must – you’re all set.
  • The paywall relies on sessions, which in layman’s terms, means that the paywall can only count the number of articles clicked on one computer, one browser at a time.
    • Switching browsers – using Chrome or Firefox instead of Internet Explorer, for example – means you’ll have a whole new 20 free articles.
    • Switching to your work computer means 20 additional free articles
    • Switching to your laptop means 20 more articles.
    • Switching to your smartphone or tablet… you get the idea.
  • “Well, fuck me old boots, Tom!” you say in an exaggerated British accent, “Nobody wants to have to manage all those different browsers!! I just want my horribly biased, pathetically misinformed editorials and aggregated AP content with my morning coffee.”  No worries, mate.
    • Instead, just clear your browser’s cookies and you can start all over again.
    • As mentioned in comments, Firefox and Safari both have private browsing modes. Close your browser when you’ve hit the cap and reopen. Presto! Chango! You’ve reset the clock.
    • Rather than dumping your whole browser cache, those who use developer tools in their browsers can find and delete the cookie named EMETA_NCLICK to effectively reset the clock.

This is a pretty good list for now, I think. If you have any additional insight to add, please do so in the comments. I’ll update the list as either new info comes to light or the rules of the game change.

Noting that the New York Times( @nytimes ) has had a respectable start to its new paywall system, I wonder if the twenty dollar subscription fee ends up being a workable model for former print media companies in other markets. And by other markets, clearly, I mean Rochester.

The NYT enjoys huge a huge national audience as well as a history of being something of a status symbol paper. You cannot think of their audience as quite reliably local as would be the case here in Rochester with the Democrat and Chronicle( @dandc ). But for the sake of scale, if you think in terms of subscribers to population, they’ve got about eight percent of the city in three months time.

Its obviously much too early to tell whether the Times will be able to keep up with those numbers once readers get charged full price. But its not too early to think about what a paywalled news media might mean.

Personally, the volume of news I read – and the variety of sources – makes the prospect of paying twenty dollars for each impossible. I’d have to cut down my reading considerably. Which would at first blush seem cut down on my reason for blogging considerably.

But then there is something intriguing about the prospect of a city full of bloggers, Tumblr accounts, Twitter feeds and Facebook pages with only the D&C in common. Of a community where notoriety might come from being the first to spot a crucial detail missing from an article. It could be a very good thing for journalism in Rochester, the effect quite apart from the information doomsday that media consolidation normally brings to mind. My mind, anyway.

We shall see….