Read the Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal for Free with JavaScript Bookmarks

kevinMEH
4 min readOct 22, 2022
Photo by Hatice Yardım on Unsplash

In this tutorial, I will show you how you can access the Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal for free on your mobile browser using JavaScript bookmarks.

If you haven’t read my article on executing JavaScript using bookmarks yet, please do so now as you’ll need that knowledge moving forward.

I will be using Safari and my iPhone for this tutorial, but the steps below should work for other phones and mobile browsers too. Let’s get started!

Wall Street Journal

Let’s start with the Wall Street Journal. First, add the following JavaScript bookmark to your browser:

javascript:url=window.location.href;window.location=url.substring(0,url.indexOf('/articles'))+'/amp'+url.substring(url.indexOf('/articles'));

When clicked, this bookmark will redirect you to the AMP version of the article you are trying to access. AMP is an HTML framework developed by Google, and has quite a bit of controversy surrounding it concerning privacy and Google control. We’ll just have to deal with it.

Next, we have to prevent the WSJ from executing the remote JavaScript it obtains from the ampproject.org domain.

We have two options here: we can either prevent the WSJ website from executing JavaScript, or we can block the resources from actually loading.

On iOS there is no way for us to selectively block JavaScript on a specific website using native settings; we can only disable it entirely, which is rather inconvenient. However, if you have an adblocker that can selectively disable JavaScript, you can try using this method.

The other option is to block those resources from loading. To do this I will use an app called Pro Script. Install Pro Script and enter the app. Click the gear icon at the top left, press “Edit in God Mode”, and paste in the following rule:

[
{
"action" : {
"type" : "block"
},
"trigger" : {
"resource-type" : [
"script"
],
"url-filter" : "ampproject.org\/.*",
"url-filter-is-case-sensitive" : false
}
}
]

This rule will block all requests for resources from the ampproject.org domain. (If your adblocker supports resource blocking, you can use it too.)

And that’s it! Let’s test out our script.

Go to WSJ.com, and click on an article of your choice. You should be greeted with a paywall.

Let’s bypass this paywall using our bookmark. After you click it, you will be redirected to the AMP version of the article, and you should see a gray screen for a few seconds. Afterwards, you’ll be able to read the full article for free!

You’ll notice that there may still be a giant popup on the screen asking us to subscribe to the WSJ. We can remove this popup using another bookmark:

javascript:popup=document.getElementsByClassName('login-section').item(0);popup.parentNode.removeChild(popup);

Financial Times

With the Financial Times, things are a bit more straightforward.

Add the following bookmark to your browser:

javascript:window.location='https://google.com/search?q='+window.location.href;

To use this bypass, go to FT.com, click on any article, and then click the bookmark. You will be redirected to a Google search of the article. Click the corresponding search result, and you will now have access to the article.

This works because of web crawlers and content indexing. For the Financial Times and its articles to appear in Google’s search results, they will need Google’s crawlers to index the content of their articles. When we click on the article through Google’s search results, Financial Times will look at our referrer (Google.com) and let us access the article.

(This works using Bing too, but not with DuckDuckGo or any of the other more privacy-oriented search engines that I know of, so we’re going to have to pick between getting tracked by Google or Microsoft.)

(There’s actually a pretty simple way to fix this, and it’s to check not just the referrer, but also the user agent of the request. But let’s not give FT any ideas!)

Help! The method stops working after a while!

This sometimes happens, and it’s because FT has stored some cookies on your device which identified that you are not some person coming from Google.

To fix this, simply close all your FT tabs, and clear your cookies for ft.com in the Settings > Safari > Advanced > Website Data section:

Clearing cookies and cache for FT.com in Safari Settings

Closing

And there we have it! We’ve successfully bypassed paywalls for the Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal.

I hope this tutorial proves useful to all of you who want to access articles without paying for a subscription. (Or maybe you just dislike Rupert Murdoch. Completely understandable.)

That being said, there are probably a bunch of other news sources out there that you may also want to access. But fear not! With a little bit of experimentation and research, and with the power of JavaScript, (almost) anything is possible.

Until next time!

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