Cracking my hometown newspaper’s paywall

Chrome extension cracks The News-Star's paywall for unlimited reading without a subscription

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I hate newspaper paywalls with a burning passion, which is why I released a paywall cracker for The Florida-Times Union’s website (jacksonville.com) last year.

Now I’ve written another paywall cracker for my hometown newspaper, The News-Star (thenewsstar.com). The News-Star moved to a paywall sometime after I moved to Jacksonville in 2010, and I’ve had to resort to Chrome’s Incognito mode to get around its max-article limit (for visitors without a subscription).

But now that’s no longer necessary. Kudos to Gannett and The News-Star, as their paywall is actually a bit more sophisticated than the Florida Times-Union’s, but it was still rather easy to fool.

This Google Chrome extension does two simple things: 1) Blocks the pop-up overlays from appearing. 2) Spoofs the browser user agent (only when visiting thenewsstar.com) to trick the website into thinking the visitor is a Google bot.

It can be downloaded and installed via the Chrome extension manager. Just go to Settings->Extensions->Get more and search for “The News Star.” Or you can visit the Chrome extension link below to install it:

Download from Google

Since I read The News-Star frequently, this extension will be updated for workarounds if The News-Star finds a way to block it, so if it ever stops working for a day or so, just be patient — I’ll figure it out.

I plan on releasing a Firefox version in the near future as well, so stay tuned.