Unlock Wall Street Journal Articles With Google

Among many other things I don't understand about the newspapers', and News Corp's in particular, handwringing over Google is this. Wall Street Journal's managing editor says that Google turns people into content sluts because they expect online stuff for free (no, I don't understand the slut-free connection either). Now, the simple antidote against your pages being indexed by search engines is a robots.txt file, but whatever. What I don't understand is why WSJ's articles that are otherwise behind a paywall are unlocked when you arrive to them through a link on Google.

Take a random article from today, say, this piece about BSkyB's financial results. You click on the link to the article on the Business section's homepage, and predictably hit the subscription jar.

You then copy the headline and paste it into Google's search field:

Click on the link that is likely to come up on the top, and -- magic! -- the entire article is yours to read.

The only difference between the two is that the free one has "?mod=googlenews_wsj" appended to its URL. Now, tacking it onto the URLs of other articles produces mixed results (wouldn't an unlocking bookmarklet be neat?), but searching with Google has worked for all other dozen random articles I tried. Someone else has reported that WSJ tries on occasions to obscure the text with an overlay, but I haven't seen that.

So yes, while I'm not complaining, I can't understand what WSJ is doing either.


  1. Love the flawed slut-free analogy -> it would seem that everybody's either a slut or a whore in that context, right?

    Thanks for the GREAT article (again) -> looking forward to more!


  2. Which reminds me, I just called to cancel my WSJ subscription. Not because I can access articles for free (which I've noticed too) - but it's just not as useful to what I do anymore. Strange correlation with the paper becoming most subscribed in the US.

  3. @Elvis: thank you

    @Peter: if you just let your sub expire, they will keep sending you copies every morning for some time anyway.

  4. I have used the copy paste approach many times and have been amazed by the results.

    Entire Forrester research reports and other stories that have gone behind a pay wall have come up free miraculously.

  5. you can just use refcontroll extension for firefox and set wsj.com to think you're coming from google.com/news/ and that unlocks the whole thing. I've been trying to come up with a way they could still get indexed by Google and not have this problem, but it seems to be a tough spot their in.


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