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Murdoch’s Oz hacks to get special paywall discount

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The News Limited paywall experiment in Australia which started on Monday has received a less-than-rapturous welcome among its journalists, who are being asked to pay to access the site.

If New Matilda is correct, hacks at Holt Street found an e-mail in their in-box offering them accounts at half the price charged to the rest of the world.

If successful, getting all of the company’s staff to shell out would probably double the paywall’s subscriber numbers at a stroke.

Unless, of course, the staff can be bothered to use Google find the content for them. On Wednesday, an Austech Forums post showed that stories paywalled via direct access were fully-indexed by Google.

In other words, a story’s headline is enough to get at a non-paywalled version - something which got attention under the "paywall hacked" headline over the last couple of days.

News has denied that this is a bug, saying instead that it’s an intentional setting that exists to allow some level of story-sharing on social networks. Reasonably enough, News director of corporate communications told AdNews that someone going to such lengths to access content probably isn’t ever going to subscribe anyhow, and that going through a multi-step process to access a story is a fairly onerous way to read more than one or two stories.

It may, however, be useful for News journalists offended by being asked, any time they’re away from the office, to pay to read their own stuff. ®

Update: News Limited has contacted The Register to state that its journalists will have free access: "No staff on The Australian will be asked to 'pay to read their own stuff.' All staff on The Australian will get the cost of a subscription reimbursed," the spokesperson wrote.

"You have confused staff on The Australian with other News Limited staff, who are entitled to the 50% discount." ®

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