Whether you consider websites with paywalls ethically wrong or just a result of bad business decisions, they are undeniably annoying devices. Now, though, there’s a way to clamber over the metaphorical razor wire, free of injury and free of charge, and browse financial analysis and witty columns to your heart’s content.
Paolo Cirio has created an online and print publication called the Daily Paywall, through which he is providing access to all articles hidden behind the paywalls of publications including the Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, and The Economist.
In order to access the articles in the first place, Cirio has had to sign up for paid accounts to the news services and then by executing a script he created, he can pull the whole lot. Around 200 articles a day are published across these sites, and altogether over 50,000 have been published in total this year.
Now if you head to the DailyPaywall.com, you will find these thousands of articles that are fully accessible and searchable through a functional — if not particularly attractive — user interface. Readers can participate in Cirio’s project by rating and sharing articles, as well as by creating questions for quizzes that other readers can participate in.
As part of the project, Cirio has tipped the crowdfunding concept on its head, offering prizes in the form of money collected from strangers to people that correctly answer quiz questions about the articles they have read on the Daily Paywall. He is not only playing with crowdfunding, but challenging the fundamental purpose of the “for-profit scheme of information selling”. Cirio basically wants to see what happens when “consumption is reversed for democratic and educational purposes, by paying readers to access and understand the news”.
He is also offering individual journalists fees for publishing their work. It is not the payment of journalists that Cirio has a problem with, after all. Rather it is the business model of elite publications putting prohibitively high price tags on subscriptions and access, meaning that swathes of society are priced out of reading them.
“A functional democracy needs an informed public. However, today access to knowledge is controlled by for-profit industry, while information is manipulated in its distribution and organisation to maintain undemocratic orders,” writes Cirio on the Daily Paywall site.
He adds that the project is not a seeking to redefine the media business model, but to present “a constructive, artistic model for an alternative approach to the distribution of information, education, income and labour” with a new purpose — one not relating to economics — at its core.
This post was originally published on this site